After such a long winter, summer has finally arrived in full. The blue skies, bright sun are quite energizing. The sun helps to increase mood, serotonin levels, activate the pineal gland and this weather brings about an overall sense of well-being. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this weather and spend at least thirty minutes to one hour out side everyday. Whether it is a walk, a light jog or sitting in the backyard with a book; simply any form of being outside will do.
In recent years the sun has received a bad reputation for being dangerous to our health, when in fact this information is grossly misinformed. When traveling to most traditional cultures across the globe, they will spend most of their time working, playing, living outdoors more so than being indoors. Consider as well our ancestors; most of the time was likely spent surviving outdoors. Sun exposure, sun gazing is fundamental for health and wellbeing.
It is important to note that sun exposure can be unhealthy if done for extended periods of time, causing repeated burning and healing of the skin. This is not what I am referring to. I am referring to exposure to the sun without sunscreen, so that the skin becomes pink. I would generally advise to start out with a few minutes per day at most; in the sun, exposing skin without sunscreen. This amount of time will be enough to release the essential Vitamin D, also known as, “The Sunshine Vitamin”.
Vitamin D is found in the skin and is released when Ultraviolet B rays, from the sun, hit exposed skin. Ultraviolet B or UVB rays are generally highest around mid-day or 10am to 2pm. UVB rays are lowest in the morning and evenings. Therefore, to get the most release of Vitamin D, when the sun is hotter is the best time.
In recent years, Vitamin D has been the subject of much media attention. At first it was not a Vitamin I was comfortable prescribing in a supplement form, as it is considered a hormone. The body is programmed to produce Vitamin D by exposure to sunlight, and so I was hesitant to prescribe. Why interfere with what the body can innately produce, when given the right environment. However, there seems to be an epidemic of deficiency, so as a second best option during months when sun exposure is limited. Supplementing with a high quality Vitamin D is quite beneficial.
What does Vitamin D actually help? Vitamin D is essential to optimal health. North of the Equator the occurrence of cancers are higher as well as cases of Multiple Sclerosis. One key difference from the equator to up north is lack of Vitamin D exposure. Rates of some cancers and cases of Multiple Sclerosis are higher in the Northwest, due to darker weather and lack of Vitamin D. Researchers at the Moores Cancer center at the University of California, San Diego found that 600, 000 cancers could be prevented per year just by increasing Vitamin D levels. This unbelievable study would likely not be found in the media, as pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from recommending the sun.
Vitamin D is also beneficial for: optimal blood pressure; osteoporosis, healthy teeth and bones; diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease; rheumatoid arthritis and prevention of most autoimmune diseases; optimal cholesterol levels; healthy immune system. These are just a few of the many functions of Vitamin D in the body.
Researchers and scientists are now reporting that covering the body in sunscreen is more harmful than good. The sunscreens will block the release of Vitamin D preventing all of the cancer fighting benefits as well as the above-mentioned functions of Vitamin D. As I mentioned it is important to expose as much skin as possible daily, until the skin becomes pink. At that point you can return inside, or apply a natural/mineral sunscreen. Try to work your way up in small increments to thirty minutes per day without sunscreen. Never stay in the sun long enough to burn, slightly pink skin is the goal. Please note that the more melanin or pigmented or darker the skin tone, the easier it is to stay in the sun. With paler skin, be very careful with sun exposure times.
We only have a few months to benefit from this amazing sunshine vitamin so try to take advantage of it. The majority of the year is spent in darker rainy days, indoors. This summer try to take advantage of family picnics and outings. The sun is worshiped by some traditional cultures, it is beneficial for spiritual growth and it elevates the mood. Any yogi out there who has performed the 12 beautifully linked Asana’s of Sun Salutation, will recognize that early morning sun gazing is a fundamental part of balancing one’s constitution via Ayurveda and Yoga. Lastly, the sun helps to release Vitamin D, helps boost immunity; your body produces it; it is free; and the body knows exactly what to do with it. Enjoy it while you can!
It is important to know the importance of high quality sunscreen. Commercial brand sunscreen is toxic to our bodies, our skin absorbs more than our gut, and so what we put on it is very important. We are a continuum of a whole ecosystem. What we purchase to use on us, has a profound effect on every system of mother earth. Commercial sunscreen is toxic to our oceans and killing our Coral Reef and has been thought to contribute to killing off one-fifth of the worlds Coral Reefs. Commercial sunscreen blocks Vitamin D. In efforts to help to become conscious of what we purchase, we have researched a few high quality brands of sun protection for times of prolonged sun exposure:
“Alumiera MD” www.alumieramd.ca
Dye free; Paraben free; sulfate free; Phthalate free; Animal cruelty free; Artificial fragrance free; Chemical sunscreen filter free
“Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen” www.colorescience.com
UVA/UVB defense; Pollution defense; Blue Light defense; Infrared radiation defense; Antioxidants; Moisturizing; Calming
Please let us know at Brio if there is any interest in purchasing the above mentioned sunscreens through us. We are happy to place a pre-pay special order if there is enough interest.
Bonus: Dr. Neetu’s most recent purchase; I rarely use sunscreen, but on my most recent trip to Tulum, Mexico, I was concerned the exposure may be too intense even for my skin tone, here is my purchase. “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” (mixed with) “Everybody Loves the Sunshine with Zinc” www.livinglibations.com
Enjoy the summer
– In health, Dr. Neetu Dhiman