There is no life without the sun. We seem to have somewhat
forgotten this over the past years because articles in magazines and on the
internet mainly talk about the negative effects of the sun. Particularly women
should avoid the sun’s rays as much as possible if they want to maintain their
youthful, fresh skin for as long as possible, so they say.
Just so that there are no misunderstandings: Of course,
repeated basking in the sun for hours on end, or a permanent visit to the
solarium is no stroke of good luck for the skin. Rather – a guarantee for
leathery skin! Damaged skin, up to and including cancer. However, moderate exposure
to the sun is not harmful by any account and surely does not lead to hardening
of the collagens in your skin.
Assuming that the sun would be responsible for the majority
of cases of skin cancer, it still does not make sense to avoid the sun. Because
the risk of developing skin cancer is by far lower than the danger of developing
another type of cancer from lack of the sun.
The results of the most comprehensive study in this field,
which was conducted by the dermatologist Frank Garland at the University Clinic
in San Diego, California, are extremely interesting. He spent 10 years
analyzing the data of 4 million navy personnel. He found that the marines that
worked under the deck developed melanomas more often compared to the deck crews
or Americans living on land. Garland suspects that although UV light can
activate melanoma cells, there are also protection factors such as an increased
production of vitamin D due to exposure to sunlight which can prevent tumors
|Careful, Sunstroke!Of course you need to be careful not to overexpose your skin to the sun in order to avoid serious problems. In the case of extreme redness of the skin, blistering, pain and fever, please consult your doctor! Especially babies and small children need to be observed carefully.A sunstroke / heatstroke comes with symptoms such as headache, neck
stiffness, shivering, nausea and vomiting. This has to be dealt with immediately: Remove the affected person from the sun, elevate their legs, give them fluids to drink, cool their body and call the doctor!
Vitamin D is critical for your body to be able to use
calcium and build bone properly. Without it, the calcium we get from food
cannot be utilized. Calcium has numerous functions in the human organism and if
we lack it, the body helps itself by taking calcium from the bones. In the long
run, this has serious consequences and opens the door to osteoporosis – the
loss of bone tissue.
Type 1 Diabetes
Researchers at the Moore’s Cancer Center of the University
of California in San Diego discovered that the development of type 1 diabetes depends
also on a person’s exposure to the sun, or rather the lack of it. They found
that people living close to the equator develop the disease less often. Or, in
other words, the rate of type 1 diabetes incidences rises with increasing
latitudinal lines and decreasing exposure to the sun.
Type 2 Diabetes
The finding, that vitamin D apparently plays an important
role in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes is brand new. A study undertaken by the Helholtz Center in
Munich, Germany, suggests that increasing one’s supply of vitamin D could
reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 43 %.
Lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for cardiovascular
problems. Doctors at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City found that
low levels of vitamin D activate signal paths in the organism that are
responsible for creating high blood pressure and hardening and thickening of the
blood vessels. The extensive Framingham Heart Study also showed that
participants who had lower levels of vitamin D in their blood suffered a heart
attack twice as often as the group with normal levels. There is also a
discussion around low levels of vitamin D causing cholesterol levels to rise.
Patients with psoriasis or eczema often experience an
improvement in their condition while on summer vacation at the beach. UV-rays have
been proven to affect these conditions in a positive way. A fact that medical technology availed
itself of. Thus, affected people can get treated with special equipment in
light therapy – here, natural ultraviolet light from the sun and controlled
delivery of artificial ultraviolet light are used. Natural sunlight is also
used at health resorts at the Dead Sea. The combination of UV light with highly
concentrated salt in the sea water makes the therapy for those affected from
psoriasis extremely effective.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found a clear
connection between a lack of vitamin D and Parkinson’s disease. And – even if
less pronounced – Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D levels were examined in 100 Parkinson’s
and Alzheimer’s patients each, as well as in healthy participants. 55 % of the
Parkinson’s patients and 41 % of the Alzheimer’s patients lacked vitamin D. In
the healthy elderly the percentage was only 36. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve
cells are damaged in numerous areas of the brain. Initial studies found that
the substantia nigra – that part of the brain which is most affected – is
furnished with a substantial number of vitamin D receptors. This fact implies
that vitamin D could play an extremely important role in the functioning of
The connection between a lack of vitamin D and depression –
but also other mental/emotional problems – is evident to many doctors already.
The sun’s rays have a positive effect on our mood. Everyone can confirm this
first-hand. A study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,
U.S.A., proved this already in the year 2006. It found that there is a clear
connection between a lack of vitamin D and a depressed mood. Furthermore, in
May of 2008, a study undertaken in the Netherlands with over 1,200 seniors found
that there was a connection between low levels of vitamin D and an increased
risk of depression.
Researchers today are
of the opinion that light stimulates the production of a number of hormones,
including Melatonin, which is regarded as the sleep hormone, and Serotonin, the
hormone considered to be the happiness hormone. Lights acts through the eyes on
the hypothalamus. An area in the brain that influences many vital functions,
such as sleeping, eating, sexual behaviour and moods. This also explains the rising
number of incidents of depression in the dark season, the so called winter
blues. Special therapy lamps can be helpful in such cases.
The daily requirement of Vitamin D
is 400 – 800 IU, which equals about 10 – 20 minutes of sunlight. Be careful not
to take too much Vitamin D: quantities in excess of 1,000 IU’s daily can cause
a decrease in bone mass! Some food sources
of Vitamin D include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or herring, eggs, milk,
butter and mushrooms.
Irene Schwens, C.Tran., DHMHS