Effects on Sunlight upon our body

Sunlight has had some bad publicity recently. The impression has been given that even small amounts of sun are harmful. While it is true that excessive sunlight can increase the risk of skin cancer and cataracts, sun in moderate amounts has many benefits.

Life and Health

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Without sunlight, life as we know it could not exist. Fruits and vegetables that receive the direct rays of the sun grow much better than those that are exposed to artificial light. This also applies to humans. Those that do not get a sufficient amount of sunshine experience poorer health. Those who are daily exposed to the vitalizing effect of the sun’s rays have a ruddy complexion and more vibrant health. Sunshine is the most natural and effective antiseptic available to us. Sunshine is also one of the most effective healing agents known.

The sun unlocks the vitamins in food. Without the sun’s rays, we could not get the full value from our food. The sun’s rays gives plants the ability, through a process known as photosynthesis, to take carbon dioxide and oxygen from the air and combine these into the basic food substances by which all things live. This is done by chlorophyll, the green substance in the leaves of the plants. We are unable to duplicate, or even fully understand, this process. Energy from the sun’s rays also act on certain substances in the skin, changing them to vitamin D, one of the essential vitamins to the body.

Sunlight keeps our blood warm and pure and supplies life-giving energy to every organ of our bodies. Our brains are fed by sunshine-enhanced blood; our body is strengthened by the sun’s energy. 

More Benefits of Sunlight

1. Sunlight converts cholesterol into vitamin D, lowering the blood cholesterol. Vitamin D provides a host of advantages to the body, including prevention of many types of cancer and better calcium absorption, which in turn helps prevent osteoporosis and tooth decay, makes stronger denser bones, and speeds bone repair.

2. Sunlight kills many germs and enhances the immune system by increasing gamma globulin, and raising the number and effectiveness of the white blood cells which destroy germs. Lightly tanned skin resists germs and infection much better than untanned skin. Many skin diseases respond well to controlled doses of sunlight. For a clean, fresh bed, expose bedding to sunlight. It’s better to let the sunlight into your homes and risk a little faded furniture than to keep the shades drawn at all times. The health of the occupants is more precious than any expensive furniture.

3. Sunlight soothes the nervous system and is important in treating depression. It gives a sense of well-being by increasing endorphin production in the brain.

4. Sunlight strengthens the cardiovascular system. It improves the circulation, lowers the heart rate, and normalizes the blood pressure and blood sugar.

5. Sunlight aids in digestion and weight loss, increasing the metabolism by stimulating thyroid production.

6. Sunlight improves sleep. Natural light exposure in daytime increases melatonin output at night.

7. The sick are greatly benefited by the sun due to its healing properties. Sunlight enhances waste elimination by improving liver function; it is an effective treatment for jaundice. It relieves the kidneys of some of their burden by eliminating wastes through the skin when you sweat.

Moderate work or exercise outdoors every day will secure these benefits and more. We receive the sun’s rays even on cloudy days; however ordinary window glass filters out 95% of the useful ultraviolet light. 

Doesn’t untraviolet light cause skin cancer?

Sun should be taken in moderation. Over-exposure to sunlight is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Melanoma, a quick spreading skin cancer that is fatal in 20% of cases, is associate with lack of regular sun exposure and repeated burning of the skin. Avoid sunburn, getting your sunshine in small doses. Take great care between 10 am and 3 pm, particularly in summer when the sun is strongest.

Excessive sunshine, especially sunburn, increases your risk of skin cancer. However, sunlight provides so many benefits that avoiding it is not a healthy choice. At least ten minutes of sunlight per day is necessary to maintain good health. 

Updated July 2014.

http://amazinghealth.com/introduction-to-sunlight

Working outdoors reduces male kidney cancer risk, study says.

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Research shows vitamin D, produced by skin when exposed to ultraviolet light, associated with reduced rate of renal cancer. Men who work outdoors, enabling their bodies to create vitamins through exposure to sunlight, have a reduced risk of kidney cancer, researchers said today. In the largest study of its kind, scientists found that vitamin D – produced by the skin when exposed to ultraviolet light – was associated with a reduced rate of renal cancer of up to 73% among men.

However, the study, published by the American Cancer Society, found that the reduced risk only applied to men – there was no drop in renal cancer among the women studied who worked outdoors. The researchers, from the National Cancer Institute in the US, said the study of 2,500 workers in central Europe supported emerging evidence that the prevalence of a number of cancers, including breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer, was lower when people were exposed to ultraviolet light.

They said vitamin D, a known anti-carcinogenic, was carried by the body to the liver and on to the kidneys, and recommended further research. “Scientific evidence suggests that vitamin D, which is generally made in the body after exposure to the sunlight, may help prevent a number of diseases, including cancer,” the research author, Sara Karami, said. “In our study, we used job titles to estimate sunlight exposure at work. We observed that men with high estimated levels of sunlight exposure had a lower risk of kidney cancer than men who had lower estimated sunlight exposure at work.” Scientists have monitored an increase in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the main form of kidney cancer, in the US and globally over the past 20 years.

A reduction in vitamin D – probably caused by many more people having sedentary lifestyles and indoor jobs – is believed to be a likely contributory factor. The researchers studied more than 2,500 workers of Caucasian descent in RussiaRomaniaPoland and the Czech Republic, splitting them into three groups according to exposure to daylight in their jobs. A significant fall of up to 38% in the risk of RCC was found with increasing occupational UV exposure among men.

In northern-most regions, that increased to a 73% drop. But after finding no similar decrease in the risk for women, Karami said: “We do not have an explanation for the apparent differences in risk between men and women”. “Biological or behavioural differences between men and women may play a role. For example, hormonal differences may influence the body’s response to sunlight exposure, and men may be prone to working outdoors while shirtless.” Although some foods contain vitamin D, the majority of people receive up to 90% of the chemical through exposure to ultraviolet light. Farm workers and those who receive strong UV light reflected from the sea were in the highest category. Those in high-sunlight jobs were assumed to receive double the intensity of sunlight to those in low-exposure jobs.

Despite the findings, the researchers warned against ignoring the “well-documented risks” of skin cancer resulting from excess exposure to the sun. “There are no public health recommendations from this study. Men and women should continue to consult their healthcare providers regarding the appropriate amount of sun exposure, weighing the well-documented risks between sun exposure and skin cancer risk,” Karami said. Healthy Caucasians can generate a full dose of vitamin D with 10-20 minutes’ exposure to strong sunlight on unprotected skin. After that, photo-degradation ensures no higher levels are created. The anti-carcinogenic properties of vitamin D include the prevention of tumour cell replication.

Source: The Guardian

Vitamin D and the nursing mother

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The not-often-discussed issue of Vitamin D deficiency in nursing mothers is discussed by an expert, and how it can affect the infants in their care. An “adequate” intake for nursing mothers is not the 400 IU/d the IOM recommends, but is instead in the range of 5,000-6,000 IU/d, taken daily. If they get that much, they will meet not only their own needs, but their infant’s as well.

Everyone seems to agree that vitamin D is important throughout life. This is certainly as true in the first year of life as it is later on. For it is during the first year that, in addition to its role in calcium metabolism, this critical nutrient reduces both the risk of current infections and the late-life development of such autoimmune diseases as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

Both the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agree that vitamin D intake during the first year of life should be 400 IU/d. My own estimation of the requirement (for different ages and body sizes) is 65-75 IU/kg body weight per day. For average body weights in infants during the first year of life that rule of thumb computes to somewhere between 300 and 500 IU/d for infants. So, while there is still contention with respect to the optimal intake for adults, there really is no disagreement about how much is needed for infants, either among various authoritative sources or arising from different approaches to the evidence. With respect to infants, 400 IU/d seems to be just about right.

The question is, how is the infant to get that vitamin D? Human milk, in most nursing mothers, contains very little vitamin D. Infant formulas, from various manufacturers, all contain some added vitamin D in amounts calculated to be sufficient to meet an infant’s needs. But extensive studies during the first year of life reveal that less than one-fifth of all infants ever get as much as the recommended 400 IU/d from any source, and fewer than one out of 10 breast-fed infants meet the requirement. As a result, the AAP urges that all infants, regardless of whether they are breast or formula fed, receive their 400 IU/d as pediatric drops. Unfortunately, this recommendation, while appropriate, is not often followed. Most babies are just not getting the vitamin D they need. The late-life consequences of this shortfall could be enormous.

It must seem strange that on the one hand we stress that human milk is the best source of nourishment for our babies, and on the other seem to ignore the fact that human milk doesn’t contain the vitamin D those babies need. The explanation, very simply, is that the disconnect is artificial. Nursing mothers have so little vitamin D in their own bodies that there is little or none left over to put into their milk. But it has not always been this way. We know that the vitamin D blood concentrations that are regularly found today in Africans living ancestral lifestyles are high enough to support putting into breast milk all the vitamin D an infant needs. But the bulk of the world’s population today is not living on the high equatorial plains of East Africa nor exposing much of its skin for most of the day.

Fortunately, we don’t have to return to East Africa. It turns out that, if we give nursing mothers enough vitamin D to bring their blood levels up to the likely ancestral levels, then they automatically put all of the vitamin D their baby needs into their own milk, thereby ensuring that the infant gets total nutrition without the need to resort to vitamin D drops.

How much vitamin D does the mother need so as to ensure an adequate amount in her milk? As with everything else related to vitamin D, there is a lot of individual variation, but it appears that the daily intake must be in the range of 5,000-6,000 IUs. As no surprise, that’s just about the amount needed to reproduce the vitamin D blood levels in persons living ancestral lifestyles today. And while 5,000-6,000 IU may initially seem high, it is important to remember how much the sun produces for us. A single 15 minute whole body exposure to sun at mid-day in summer produces well over 10,000 IU.

There is one important proviso for nursing mothers concerning the needed intake. Those who live in North America and have to rely on supplements should be certain that they take their supplements every day. While for other purposes it is possible to take vitamin D intermittently (e.g., once a week), that doesn’t work for putting vitamin D into human milk. The residence time of vitamin D in the blood is so short that, if the mother stops taking her vitamin D supplement for a day or two, vitamin D in her milk will be low (or absent altogether) on the days she skips. Read full article.

Source: Science Daily