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The Sun King

Believe it or not getting sun and getting outside for most people is a challenge. I know people that the only sun they get is going from their home or work to their car. The rest of the time is spent indoors.

For a while the sun got a bad rap due to a rise in skin cancer cases. It turns out that it’s not always the cause. What is the main ingredient for needing sun? Vitamin D. Below are a few reasons to get enough Vitamin D:

  • promoting healthy bones and teeth
  • supporting immune, brain, and nervous system health
  • regulating insulin levels and supporting diabetes management
  • supporting lung function and cardiovascular health
  • influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development

This is from Health at Harvard:

“The relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer risk isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Genes are a factor, of course: Some protect, some promote. So is skin type: People with pale skin who sunburn easily and don’t tan are more likely to get sun-related skin cancer. As for exposure, the “dose” and its timing are crucial. Several studies have suggested that suddenly getting a lot of sun is more dangerous than steady exposure over time.”

As you can see it’s not as simple as you should not be in the sun. For a quite some time and to this day there are dermatologist he believes you should have zero sun exposure. The crazy thing is I know several people who are white as a sheet, never leave the house without sunscreen and have skin cancer. My point here is that there is more to the story than just saying don’t ever get sun or go bake yourself at the beach. There is a middle ground here.

“In addition, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Human Resources found that students who get more sunlight every day perform better in tests. Yet another research conducted at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago noted that there is a strong link between workplace daylight exposure and the employees’ sleep, activity and quality of life.”

In recent years low levels of vitamin D have turned the tables on the “never sun” crowd. Many people are deficient in it and it has a negative effect on your health. There are 3 ways to get vitamin D, the sun, food or supplements. 

Studies conclude that getting 15 minutes of sun exposure in the morning is the best time to reap the benefits of the sun without risking overexposure. Some foods that are high in Vitamin D are eggs, fatty fish such as Salmon and sardines. The last way to get Vitamin D is through supplementation.

To me, more than vitamin D, getting some sun exposure in the morning is just plain good for you. We spend way too much time indoors exposed to fake lighting and screens that aren’t good for us. I never jumped on the whole primal/paleo bandwagon but I don’t discount some of the benefits they tout and one of them is getting moderate sun exposure and getting in nature. I believe we can all benefit from getting outside in nature more.

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