HEALTH CENTER

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Harmful or Helpful Sun Rays? by Tina de los Reyes

Tina 1The University of Edinbourgh recently published a study stating that the benefits of sun exposure (in moderation) outweigh the risks of skin cancer. At first it seems that this new information contradicts everything we’ve been taught about the risk of sun exposure and skin cancer. We’ve been advised to hide under umbrellas, large hats, or stay indoors on hot and sunny days. However, by missing out on sunshine, your body misses out on vitamin D, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart attack, lower incidence of strokes, and even longer life spans.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the most well-known benefit of sun exposure (besides that coveted tan).   This vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium, muscle movement, and nerve function. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can cause depression, lethargy, oversleeping, and overeating. Furthermore, low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets, osteomalacia, and is linked to prostate cancer. Most calcium supplements are enriched with vitamin D. However, you can also take oral supplements of vitamin D, since the body does not synthesize it on its own. Toxicity from high levels of vitamin D is rare.

New Health Benefits

New studies have shown that as the skin absorbs the sunlight, a compound (Nitric Oxide) is released into the blood stream which lowers blood pressure.  Reduced blood pressure will reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular related diseases/illnesses.  Twenty minutes of sunlight a day can add years to your life and also a good way to combat stress (which helps to lower blood pressure).  Blood pressure-related deaths kill 80 times more people a year than skin cancer.  A small amount of daily sun is both mentally and physically beneficial to your health for the short and long term.

When getting your vitamin D fix, you should avoid wearing sunscreen. Even a low SPF may block the body’s ability to process vitamin D by 95%. The popularization of sunscreen has caused an increase in vitamin D-related illnesses.   After your “vitamin D time,” go ahead and put on sunscreen if you’re going to spend more time in the sun.

Works Cited

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-05/uoe-scb050713.php

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57583551/sunshine-may-lower-blood-pressure-and-boost-heart-health-study-suggests/

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.