Ahhhh, summer. Wednesday marks the first official day of summer and like most Okanagan residents, I'm more than happy to see longer days and the sunshine that comes with it. Typically we are blessed with more sunny, hot days over the summer than not, hence the reason we are known to the outside world as the Hawaii of Canada. And, aside from wake and skateboards taking the place of surfboards, I believe we are fairly similar in the way residents of both destinations love to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Personally, I love getting outside to work in the garden, go for a walk or a hike, eat dinner out on the deck and of course, hit the beach a few times. But is spending extended periods of time in the sun harmful or can it actually be helpful for our health?
Sunshine, as it comes in contact with the skin, starts a chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important component in the development and maintenance of bone growth because it helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Health Canada's website provided this information, “In children, low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets, a condition characterized by soft bones and skeletal deformities. In adults, low levels of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis (decreased bone mass), which also increases the risk of fractures. Some research suggests that adequate vitamin D may have benefits, such as lowering the risk of breast and colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease in men, and multiple sclerosis....Getting some sun may also shake off the wintertime blues: Research suggests that light hitting your skin, not just your eyes, helps reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD). ” Anyone thinking lunch out on the patio today?
Also reported by Health Canada was data collected showing almost one third of Canadians do not measure up when it comes to having sufficient levels of vitamin D. Literally three out of 10 people in Canada, with the greatest percentage of those people falling between the ages of 20 to 39 years olds, scored in the low to deficient range for vitamin D. Interesting as many consider this age range to be the healthiest, strongest, and fittest time in their lives. And if the healthiest times are showing signs that warrant concern, perhaps we should begin looking closely at what we can do to turn these assumptions into reality.
So, we agree vitamin D is important, we know many Canadians are not measuring up and we know sunshine is an easy, all-natural way to infuse our bodies with this necessary element. But how long in the sun is enough? Because there are many different factors to consider such as skin type, your location on the planet, time of year, time of day and even atmospheric conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all time limit. Dr. Mercola did however write on this very subject and he says, “....although as a general rule of thumb, you'd want to expose as much of your body as possible to sunlight until your skin turns the lightest shade of pink.” This does require a bit of monitoring to ensure sunscreen is applied or shade is sought out at the right time to avoid burning. Of course different conditions and locations can make the length of time you stay out today different from how long you'll be out tomorrow or next week, or next month around the pool on that European summer vacation getaway. And of course no one wants, or needs, a sunburn.
Research also agrees that age is a factor in all things vitamin D. Getting outside and soaking up some rays on a regular basis before the age of 20 is great, but it's also the worst time, according to the Health Canada website to sustain a sunburn as it can present the most risk for developing some types of skin cancers later in life. On the flip side, those over the age of 50 tend to start slowing down the body's natural process of creating vitamin D, so introducing a supplement at this point is often recommended along with getting outside for your daily dose.
And as we are being proactive in getting outside and soaking up those rays, let's also be preventative. When the vitamin D tank has been fuelled, throw on a shirt, hat or all natural sunscreen (our skin is our largest organ so best to know what you're covering your body with) if you plan on being outside for extended periods of time. Happy summer everyone!
If you're looking to make this summer count, why not take steps now to improve your health or take back control of it completely? Book your free assessment with Tania today and start living the life you deserve. Because you're worth it. Call 250.870.8719 or online at http://www.fuelignitethrive.com/
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