It’s not just about vitamin D anymore.

Having spent many years in sales and marketing I’m very familiar with the three things that are virtually guaranteed to sell products; (1) fear (2) kids (3) pets. And, if you can combine any of those three you have a guaranteed winner. I recall a radio commercial that ran last year selling garage doors. They chose to use fear and kids, spelling out the horrific possibility of your faulty garage door falling on one of your children. Compelling!

Unfortunately, there are some in the medical/health industry that also like to use fear to sell products or services. Particularly annoying to me are the “sun-police”, who delight in touting the potentially lethal damage the sun can do to one’s skin. Sun-bashing has been relentless over the past ten years or so, making it seem as if the only way to avoid getting skin-cancer is to stay indoors as much as possible, completely cover up if you have to go outside, and if at all possible, move to Seattle!

Besides sunscreen products, the other benefactor of the fear-mongering sun-scare is vitamin D supplements. If you’re going to avoid the big yellow ball in the sky, you will need to make sure you get enough vitamin D. Why? Because vitamin D is essential to some critical health issues such as healthy bones and teeth and protection against bowel cancer. But here’s the dirty little secret; taking a vitamin D supplement is woefully deficient in accomplishing what real sunshine was designed for. The miracle of sunshine, as God intended it, is that when it shines on your skin it actually manufactures a vitamin D in your body that cannot be reproduced any other way.

Getting real sunshine is about more than vitamin D

There are exciting new scientific discoveries that should be very encouraging to all sun-worshippers like myself. And, these healthy discoveries about the sun go way beyond vitamin D. As it turns out, even taking the skin-cancer risk fully into account, scientists now say that getting a good dose of sunshine is statistically going to make us live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Emerging research indicates that sunlight may protect us against a wide range of lethal or disabling conditions, such as obesity, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and multiple sclerosis. Sunshine has also been shown to boost our libidos and general mood. This occurs because exposure to sun prompts our bodies to produce nitric oxide, a chemical that helps protect our cardiovascular system — and the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.

They’re even going as far as to say that lack of sun could be as bad as smoking!

This new scientific data about sunshine’s benefits has emerged from a study of nearly 30,000 Swedish women whose sunbathing habits have been followed for 20 years. The study, in the Journal of Internal Medicine, found that 1.5 women in 100 who reported they had the highest exposure to ultraviolet light (by sunbathing up to once a day) were found to have died during the two decades, compared with three in 100 for women who said they had avoided sunbathing.

But wait, there’s more

Dr. Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, last year published a report in the journal Maturitas warning that older people need to get into the sun more. ‘Advice on healthy sun exposure needs to be reconsidered,’ he urges. ‘The older population are particularly sun-deprived as shown by low blood levels of vitamin D and lack of outdoor activity.’

He adds that there is a reduction in cardiovascular disease and deaths from all causes with increased sun exposure. Two years ago, Dr. Weller’s team established that exposure to sunlight may lower people’s blood pressure and thus cut their risk of heart attack and stroke. This benefit has nothing to do with vitamin D.

Instead, it is due to the fact that when our skin is exposed to the sun a compound — called nitric oxide — is released in our blood vessels which in turn lowers blood pressure by causing blood vessels to widen.

As I have always suspected, the sun-police with their scare tactics have frightened people into the shade, supposedly for their health, but as we now know sunshine on our skin is extremely beneficial and absolutely necessary.

So, get out there and get some sun!

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