Friday, July 10, 2009

The Power of the Sun

By Shawn Vuong

The sun provides the body a vitamin. It is weird to think about right? We are not plants, yet we need sunlight. The sun is a great source of vitamin D, and also provides cues for your body to keep hormones in balance which is important for a person's sleep cycle and his/her psyche. In the same token, the sun is not something to be enjoyed too much, a person could have a so called "sun over-dose." UV rays from the sun are known to cause many skin conditions that Dr. Holm touches on in this following article. So, enjoy the sun in moderation. If you aren't getting enough sun, consider drinking more milk, eating more fish, or maybe even a short time in a tanning bed. While we don't need the sun for photosynthesis, humans health is affected by the great power of the sun.


By Richard P. Holm MD

There is something about the power of the sun. I was a sixteen-year-old Boy Scout on a canoe trip in Northern Minnesota one summer and we had been soaked with rain and chilled to the bone for two days straight. And then the sun came out, and I stretched out on a rock to gather some of its warmth.

At that moment I could feel the force of ol’ sol beaming into me, and I remember thinking how the sun’s radiation was the visible energy source for life on this earth, and I wanted more of it.

It must be a natural instinct to want exposure to the rays of the sun. Think how people gravitate to the beach, and how sad some get in the days of the winter solstice when they don’t get enough of it. But can you get too much?

The answer is yes. We know that excessive sun exposure causes premature aging with wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, rough skin, not to mention skin cancers, some of which are terrifically malignant. You hear and read everywhere the following words of advice: stay out of the sun; use sunscreen; wear protective clothing; and avoid tanning.

Recently, however, we have become more aware of the importance of enough vitamin D, which comes to us from the rays of the sun. We know that just about 50 percent don’t have enough of it when measured by blood. It is also interesting to note that the other natural source of that vitamin comes from the oil of deep-sea fish.

Scientists have linked low levels of vitamin D with not only increased bone fractures and pain but also heart disease, diabetes, and cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon. Therefore I encourage people to daily take 2000 units of vitamin D. We don’t, however, know yet if giving vitamin D supplements will help.

Maybe we all need to get outside and gather in more of that sun… just not too much of it.


Sun Safety Alliance said...

Dr. Boomer:

Thanks for educating the public about the importance of wearing sun protective clothing.

Mehdi said...

Interresting.. at the same time, the rule of light at the photostimulation to produce melatonin from serotonin at the pineal gland is very important.