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Warning against over exposure is a good thing, but professionals making claims that the sun is bad for people, is one of the most ignorant ones I’ve ever heard! These claims probably somehow stem from the multi billion dollar skin care industry.

Have you ever wondered why people seem so healthy during the summer? It very likely comes from more time spent outside and in the sun, where our body can naturally produce nature’s only hormonal vitamin(vitamin D)!

When we change the way nature is set up (for us) to be participants of, we need to keep in mind that nature can be a little environmentally harsh to someone who is not conditioned to it at all when they suddenly over expose themselves to these environmental conditions! Even a overexposure to a health club could be bad for our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, it’s no different with the sun on our skin!

We need professionals that advocate gradual conditioning of the skin rather then promoting the daily slathering on of chemicals and in so many words saying we should trust chemicals more then something that has been around for 1000’s of years (the sun) and something the human body is designed to naturally protect itself from through the production of a hormonal vitamin!

Warning against over exposure is a good thing, but professionals making claims that the sun is bad for people, is one of the most ignorant ones I’ve ever heard! These claims probably somehow stem from the multi billion dollar skin care industry.

Research studies and claims always make me curious when they come up with negative results on things that have been a part of people’s lives for thousands of years. A curious thing happened after the media and other sources scared many people into protecting themselves against the sun’s deadly rays, (chronic disease sky rocketed)! And most of these chronic diseases are associated with low vitamin D levels! Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D have more than double the risk of dying over an eight-year period and they cited the reason for these deficiencies was decreased outdoor activity. When I looked up vitamin D and chronic disease, there were 16,300,000 results! One thing the naysayers cannot dispute, is that all life here on earth would cease to function without the sun.

Example of vitamin D’s many processes in the body: when we produce adequate levels of vitamin D, it helps us pull calcium from the foods we eat that contain calcium. When our vitamin D levels are low our calcium levels in the body drop even if we have a calcium rich diet, this in turn will force the body to pull calcium from the bones for muscle activity and other functions thus making our bones brittle and weak!

A cascading effect of vitamin D: low levels of vitamin D will cause low levels of calcium, low levels of calcium will cause our body to be less alkaline. This means our body becomes more acidic and a body that is more acidic becomes more disease friendly! I believe these acidity levels have contributed in a major way to the epidemic of chronic disease we have now.

Here’s a little trick to get around buying vitamin D made in a laboratory: spend 5-20 minutes in the mid-day sun with as much skin exposed as possible, (exposure time should vary by fairness of skin). Experts say 10 minutes will give your body enough radiation to manufacture about 10,000 IU of vitamin D. The neat thing is that our body can store extra vitamin D in our fat cells for the winter (vitamin D is fat soluble), so I think its pretty easy to see what God gave us summers for! The further north you live, the more you may benefit from additional vitamin D supplementation.

Quick notes: there are 3 types of ultraviolet rays A, B, & C. UVA rays are the most common and reach beyond the top layer of skin. UVB is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer but some makes it through,especially at mid-day and is responsible for the production of vitamin D, UVC is the dangerous kind and is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer.

Tanning beds: produce both A & B rays but primarily A.

Note: the key to healthy sun therapy is in gradual exposure and avoiding long periods of overexposure after long periods of underexposure. Remember that (just like our muscle, bones, immune system as well as other physiological functions in our body), our skin is not so different in that it becomes conditioned for a gradual increased exposure to a particular condition, and when we overdo something, things break down and when we continue to do this it can lead to a chronic inflammatory condition which is the root of most chronic disease!

Foods good for skin color: vitamin A rich foods are really good for healthy skin color and are dark-orange foods such as cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, orange and yellow peppers and apricots.

Skin protection: colorful compounds (carotenoids) from fruits and vegetables get deposited in the skin and protect against sunburn and oxidation which in turn helps protect us from skin cancer and aging of the skin.

Remember to build exposure gradually and just like a muscle steadily becomes stronger and avoids injury with gradual resistance your skin will also build its protection and produce an awesome supply of natural vitamin D the way you were designed to receive it. I hope you have a lot of fun in the sun this summer and get plenty of vitamin D stored up for fall and winter!

Wishing you the best in health & fitness!
Wade Yoder
ISSA Master Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Valley Athletic Club