The North East has seen widespread vitamin D deficiency as a result of people spending less time exposed to the sun. Adequate amounts of sunshine enhance biochemical pathways which regulate the circadian rhythm in the body which is responsible for the production of vitamin D and is also needed to strengthen bones and boost the immune system.
Low levels of vitamin D are a risk factor for developing cancer. Studies have shown that moderate sun exposure actually reduces the rate of skin cancer as well as the rates of most other cancers. The pigment melanin in our skin serves as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals created by ultraviolet radiation that can cause damage to DNA. Melanin is a mechanism that serves as built in protection.
The best time to be outside is when the UV index is low. This usually occurs during the winter months and during the early mornings and late evenings of the summer months. At these low risk times, sunscreen is normally not required. The index is highest and most dangerous at mid day during the summer months. If you need to be out in the sun, proper sun protection is essential.
Look for non-toxic sunscreens with SPS ratings above 15 and apply liberally to all parts of the body that will be exposed. Keep in mind that sunscreen is not the ticket to being in the sun all of the time. While sunscreen can help prevent sunburn, it does not prevent skin damage, basal-cell carcinoma skin cancer or the deadly malignant melanoma. More time spent in the sun means more cancer risk.
Patients can be tested for levels of vitamin D. Deficiencies can be addresses with smart sun exposure during favorable times. In addition, consumption of antioxidant-rich foods including tomatoes, berries, cruciferous vegetables and green tea can all help protect the skin against sun damage without compromising vitamin D production. There are also D supplements available that can help patients return to a normal D range.
New Horizon Medical is a medically supervised wellness center that focuses on weight loss and wellness. Located in Norwood, Massachusetts, it serves the communities of Walpole, Westwood, Dedham, Milton, Canton, Stoughton, Sharon, and Foxborough. New Horizon also offers FREE consultations regarding weight loss and related health concerns. 781-269-5400