Sunshine, it’s good for you!

Sun-and-FunI have a basic premise for the way I think about health and health care. If we evolved with it our bodies have adapted to it. As a species we have only recently removed ourselves from the outdoor environment, hunting and gathering of food. Now we spend our days under artificial light and consuming food that we no hand in harvesting or producing. We accept the advantages of a modern lifestyle but what about the downsides?

Let’s look at something that we take for granted, sunshine. We’ve lived in the open sun almost all of our 2.5 million years of development.  All that time without sunscreen and dermatologists warning us about sun exposure and we’re still here!  Stop for a moment and think. What does that tell you? We are perfectly adapted to living in the sun. As matter-of-fact, much like plants, sunshine is essential for our well-being.

If you’ve seen a doctor recently for a physical and a full-blood screen was ordered then you probably had your vitamin D levels tested. Most Americans vitamin D levels are low. It is likely yours are too. It’s not surprising as most of us rarely go out-of-doors without covering up or slathering on sunscreen. Few of us consume fish, beef liver, eggs or cod liver oil in satisfactory amounts to support healthy vitamin D levels. The sunshine vitamin is rapidly taking center stage in conversations about immunity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, bone density and long list of other health concerns. The reason is we don’t get outside in the sun long enough for even modest amounts of vitamin D production.

My suggestion is that you test your vitamin D levels. You can ask your doctor or you can order a test online and have the results sent to you. Only after you know your levels should you start a replenishment program. If you want to know more about how you can safely build your vitamin D levels read Dr. Michael Hollick’s The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problems. He has a reasonable formula for sun exposure for all skin types. Dr. John Cannell’s excellent website is great for up to date information about vitamin D and suggested supplementation amounts.

The important point to remember is that vitamin D deficiency is mostly a symptom of our modern lifestyles. Humans need outdoor activity in the sun to be healthy. Are you taking the time you need to rest and rejuvenate outdoors? Get outside and roll those sleeves up. Lie in a sunny spot with as much skin exposed as the season and temperature will allow for just 10 minutes a day. Don’t wait until your doctor says, “We need to discuss your low vitamin D level”.

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