Avoiding sun exposure may cause an increase in vitamin D deficiency so dangerous that it is comparable to smoking.
Conventional wisdom is that we need to avoid sun exposure in order to avoid skin cancer. However, one of the issues with conventional wisdom is that it is born out of convenience and not critical thinking. With all of the new data emerging on the importance of vitamin D, which can be made in our body when sunlight hits the skin, researchers are finally starting to ask the right questions.
The answers are surprisingly showing that avoiding sun exposure is a significant health risk. In fact, the authors of a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine concluded based upon their results that avoiding the sun “is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.”
These results shatter conventional wisdom, but they are not new. Noted vitamin D researcher Michael Holick, MD, PhD, warned almost a decade ago that avoiding sun exposure to prevent skin cancer results in such a drop in vitamin D levels that for every life saved from skin cancer over 100 people will lose their lives to other forms of cancer most notably prostate, breast and colon cancer. This new study definitely proves his warning to be true.
A huge and growing amount of research has now shown that avoiding sun exposure has created an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Current estimates are that at least 50% of the general population and 80% in infants are deficient in vitamin D.
Low levels of D3 are now known to play a major role in the development in many of the chronic degenerative diseases. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be the most common medical condition in the world and vitamin D supplementation may be the most cost effective strategy in improving health, reducing disease, and living longer.
Those deficient in vitamin D have twice the rate of death and a doubling of risk for many diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, the life expectancy of people that avoided sun exposure was reduced by about 2 years compared to those who regularly sun bathed. In fact, nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who had the highest level of sun exposure.
Researchers looked at data from 29,518 Swedish women that were enrolled in a study that began in 1990. The women were 25-64 years of age at the start of the study. The study was originally designed to evaluate the rate of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, so sun exposure was one of the variables that was being examined.
The results showed that women that regularly sun bathed lived longer because they had a lower rate of death cardiovascular disease (CVD) and deaths that were not due to cancer or CVD as compared to those who avoided sun exposure. However, as a result of living longer, these women did have a higher rate of cancer death.
Because nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, the researchers concluded that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.
It is time we advocate sensible sun exposure instead of complete avoidance. Sunscreens have their place, but we need some sun exposure for our health. And, we also need to regularly check vitamin D3 levels. For optimum health, most experts recommend blood levels of vitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) between 50-80 ng/mL (125-200 nmol/L).
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Please check out their website and get involved in supporting this important organization. And, at the very least, order a vitamin D test kit for only $60. That is a bargain! A friend of mine just had their vitamin D level measured as part of their annual physical and got stuck with a $360 bill.
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Just over a month ago, Dennis Kimetto of Kenya ran the fastest marathon ever, finishing the Berlin Marathon with a record-setting time of 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds. This means that for more than 26 miles (42 kilometers), Kimetto kept up a blisteringly fast average pace of 4 minutes and 41 seconds per mile (2 minutes and 56 seconds per kilometer).
Every year, it becomes more difficult to break a world record. Is there a limit to human capability?
Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change irreversibly.
Studies on melatonin have documented that the body’s own melatonin production helps us fall asleep, yet research on supplemental melatonin has been disappointing.
What many have missed is that certain foods provide natural forms of melatonin, which have been shown to raise melatonin blood levels naturally and significantly aid sleep.
An abundance of research has linked higher melatonin levels with the ability to fall asleep. Yet this research has been done on the body’s own melatonin production. Melatonin production is stimulated by the pineal gland as the sun sets and the lights dim during the later evening. This helps us fall asleep, as melatonin helps slow down cellular metabolism.
As most of us age, and especially with higher stress levels, our body’s ability to produce melatonin wanes. This can produce a chronic issue of sleeplessness – which has the potential for producing greater risk of various disorders as we age – as lack of sleep quality has been linked with a myriad of chronic disorders, from chronic fatigue to dementia.
Does Supplement Melatonin Work and Is It Safe?
Yet synthetic melatonin – either produced in the lab or from cow urine – does not produce the same effects as the body’s own (endogenous) melatonin. Some studies have shown that synthetic melatonin can help ones sleep-phase cycles slightly – helping during jet lag or similar situations – when our sleep cycles get messed up.
But as a sleep inducer – synthetic melatonin has been disappointing at best. Some research – such as studies by Dement and Vaughan (1999) – has even found that synthetic melatonin can stunt growth among younger people along with producing a myriad of other side effects such as dizziness and headaches.
Furthermore, supplemental melatonin’s effectiveness as a sleep aid has been shown to be questionable. In an extensive review by researchers from the University of Alberta (Buscemi et al. 2004) prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 932 studies on melatonin since 1999 were analyzed—with 132 being qualified as offering clear results with good protocols. The study concluded that supplemental melatonin was:
Not effective for treatment of most primary sleep disorders
Not effective in treating most secondary sleep disorders
Offered no evidence of effectiveness for jet lag and shift-worker disorders
Certain Natural Foods Provide a Safe Means of Melatonin
Yet little attention has been put on the fact that nature provides another means for increasing blood melatonin levels – by eating certain natural foods.
And recently, research from Thailand’s Khon Kaen University has found that the body’s levels of melatonin can be naturally raised through eating of some tropical fruits.
The researchers used a crossover study design with 30 healthy human subjects to see which fruits – tropical fruits selected for their melatonin content – would naturally raise the body’s melatonin levels.
The researchers tested six tropical fruits among the volunteers, giving them a diet heavy in that particular fruit for one week following a one-week washout. During these periods the researchers analyzed the subjects’ urine levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin – also referred to as aMT6s.
Higher levels of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin or aMT6s in the urine indicates higher levels of melatonin circulating within the bloodstream.
With each different fruit, the subjects’ aMT6s levels were tested. The 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels after eating some fruits – notably pineapples, bananas and oranges – increased significantly. Pineapples increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) levels by over two-and-a-half times (266%) while banana increased aMT6s levels by 180% – almost double. Meanwhile, oranges increased aMT6s levels by 47%.
The other fruits also moderately increased melatonin content among the patients.
Other research – as reported by Realnatural – has shown that natural melatonin from red tart Montmorency cherries (Prunus cerasus) can increase sleep efficiency and quality. A study from an international group of researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice for seven days increased sleep by an average of 34 minutes a night – by speeding up falling to sleep – and increased sleep efficiency by 5-6%.
And like the study from Thailand, the research found that drinking cherry juice increased 6-sulfatoxymelatonin levels naturally – without the need of exogenous or synthetic melatonin supplements.
Other foods that naturally increase melatonin levels include oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas, mangosteen and barley.