October 13, 2008
THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Growing up in the South where the sun shines brightly except for a few months of the year I was never concerned about protecting myself because my suntan never faded and I was brown year 'round. After relocating to Chicago and spending many long winter months indoors I ventured out as soon as the weather permitted and got a horrible sunburn. I also realized for the first time that my skin was white and sensitive . From that day forth I was never without sunscreen.
As the number of cases of deadly skin cancer increased in recent decades so have the warnings to the general public of the sun's dangers. I think that we gardeners who spend a lot of time in the sun are more keenly aware than most of the damage the sun can do.
Just recently however I was reading some interesting new research that shows many Americans are lacking sufficient Vitamin D in their diet . Vitamin D has been proven to be helpful in preventing prostate, colon and breast cancer and other diseases. Rickets as most people know is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D, but research shows that heart problems, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and osteoporsis can also be caused by it.
Experts now recommend you get the sunshine vitamin by exposing your skin to at least two 15 minute period twice a week , at the time when the sun is not at his hottest, such as early morning and late afternoon. The sun is still the single most source of vitamin D and exposure for 15 minutes, even every day , is theraputic. Researchers found that women with advanced breast cancer who took in daily doses of sunshine saw an improvement.
News reports this morning advised parents to double the dose of D for children, from 200 to 400 IU, which means than 800 IU is now the adult dosage. Dr. Michael Holik, Head of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Lab even suggests a dosage of 1,000 , but not to go over 2,000.
Since new research about the importance of Vitamin D came out labs have reported a 80 per cent increase in testing for levels in patients. It's especially important for darker skin people and those living north of Chicago to take Vitamin D supplements or have a diet high in it. Cod liver oil has the highest concentration of D, followed by tuna, salmon and mackerel. Grandma was right about the cod liver oil but I don't think I will ever learn to like it.
So enjoy your final few Fall days in the sun soaking up some D.