With summer just around the corner for those of us in the southern hemisphere, this week’s article is how to protect yourself from excess sunshine, in particular the ultraviolet rays.
First up, you need sunshine. You cannot exist without it. It is important in all aspects of your health, but especially in the growth and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth as well as in muscle health. Those deficient in sunshine are considered to be at a higher risk of cancer.
And sunshine is free. It has been suggested that only 10 minutes in summer sun is all you need to protect yourself against a deficiency, although this will depend on your skin colour. More exposure will be needed for darker skinned people and in wintertime, but vitamin D stores well in your body, allowing you to get through a dull winter unscathed, as long as you top up in the summer. You don’t need daily doses of vitamin D, as you do vitamin C.
Yes, there is a problem with excess sunshine, but it’s far more to do with those who are inside all week, then go out for a weekend’s sunbathing all day in a hot summer, midday sun. Just as there is a problem with weekend warriors and their excess exercise after a sedentary job all week.
There is a great market in sunscreen. All driven by fear. But the fear should be in the sunscreen, as its use contributes to skin cancer. Sunscreen blocks the essential UV rays from getting to your body, and so denying its health promoting qualities.
So what should you do?
You can get all your sunscreen in your diet. Carotenoids are those nutrients which protect both plants and animals from excess sunshine, so you get just the right amount. These are also known as beta carotene and lutein. Carotenoids are colourful molecules which reflect the ultraviolet rays of the sun. By eating foods rich in these natural nutrients, your body is able to protect your skin naturally. And at the same time, keeping it looking fabulously healthy.
The top foods that contain carotenoids are the dark coloured fruit and veggies such as the dark green leafy veggies (spinach, kale, collards, silver beet) and tomatoes. Yellow or orange coloured fruit and veggies such as apricots, carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe melons are also rich in carotenoids.
One of the most potent carotenoids is the red pigmented nutrients found in algae, which is known as astaxanthin. This nutrient is considered to be 1000 times more effective at protecting the skin against UV damage. This algae is one of the most potent and health promoting antioxidants known, not just for its UV protection.
Astaxanthin has more staying power than most carotenoids. It can neutralise more types of free radicals that can be so damaging, than any other antioxidant, including effects of radiation.
Buying supplements of the isolated (and so synthetic) carotenoids, lutein and astaxanthin will do your health very little good. Eating natural foods rich in these nutrients will not only protect your skin, it will enhance your health and alkalise your body. Your digestion is likely to improve, with more regular bowel movements. This cuts down your chance of getting bowel or colon problems.
Enough about natural sunscreen, let’s get onto vitamin D.
The vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, supplement is sourced from plants.
The vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, supplement as an isolated and synthetic ‘nutrient’ starts its life out as lanolin, pig or cow skin or any other animal parts that are rich in cholesterol. The cholesterol is separated out and irradiated. Although this process is exactly what your body does – converts cholesterol to vitamin D via your exposure to sunshine – the laboratory process is chemical. Human science manipulates natural chemicals, with unknown long term results, but usually to your health’s detriment.
The resulting vitamin is highly concentrated and can easily be overdone. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to allow my body to do what has been occurring from the very first signs of life on earth, rather than consume a chemically processed and irradiated product pharmaceutical companies are creating for a profit.
Excess of synthetic vitamin D3 can lead to hypoglycaemia, an accumulation of calcium in the blood. Other symptoms can include irregular heart rhythm and other heart related problems, bone loss, irreversible kidney failure, muscle weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, retarded physical and mental growth in children and fetal abnormalities. It promotes weight gain and disrupts your natural hormone levels.
Excess synthetic vitamin D has been used as rat poison.
The colour of your skin will determine how much natural sunshine you need, as well as the country you live in. Melanin is the skin pigmentation which determines your natural skin colour. It protects the skin against excess sunshine. Dark skinned people need more sunshine, to get through the melanin.
Melanin also colours the iris, making brown eyed people more able to tolerate bright sunshine. Albinos lack melanin.
Some very fair skinned people do easily burn in even a mild sun. This is an unhealthy imbalance and can often be helped by homeopathic treatment.
Those of you in the northern hemisphere still have time to top up on your natural vitamin D levels to get you through the coming winter.