Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunlight, Vitamin D and My Friends

I've written in this blog how I discovered that sunlight is the only real way to get vitamin D, and how visiting a tanning salon changed my life forever. 

Before tanning — I was vitamin D deficient and in pain whenever I went for a long walk. After tanning for a few months, I've got the same vitamin D levels in my blood as an outdoor worker, and going for a walk is no longer a problem. 

My vitamin D level? 75 ng/ml. Before tanning, it was just 11 ng/ml.

Do you know your vitamin D level? I’m amazed how many of my friends STILL don’t know theirs. That’s why I make it a point to tell them my story — how sunshine changed my life. How a girl who never thought she could go outside without burning herself now enjoys regular sun and tans moderately in a salon. How I’m convinced that vitamin D supplements could never have done all of that.

Sunlight makes endorphins in your skin when you’re exposed. It regulates your production of serotonin. No vitamin D pill can do that. Could it be any more obvious that we need to let some sun back into our lives?

This story needs to be told over and over again. And that’s why I do it.

Get your vitamin D level checked. It’s called a calcidiol test. You need to be 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) to be sufficient. ( And sunlight is nature’s way of getting your vitamin D the right way.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don't Panic

These days there seems to be an outright panic of the general public about UV rays. I am no doctor and am not at all qualified to make health recommendations so I’d like to make this clear that the following is based on my opinion with some recent news I have read that has verified my feeling on the subject.

I read an article this week about how genetics play a role in who is at risk for developing skin cancer. That makes sense to me. Think about it, skin cancer occurs in many different people at all different stages of life. It strikes people who tan, and people who don’t tan, fair skinned people and darker skin tones, men and women, it can’t be just about UV exposure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to minimize the impact of the disease. I feel for anyone that has had this awful disease. A few years ago my mom had basil cell carcinoma on her forehead. They caught it early and it was removed without any further issue. I would like to add that my mom is fair skinned and burned easily throughout her life. She has never in her life used a tanning bed. She has used caution when out in the sun. She also has battled breast cancer as well as her older sister, indicating to me that there could be a genetic factor there. Cancer is a widespread problem and to point the finger at tanning beds as the evil cause of all skin cancer is very misleading. UV light contributes, but I really feel the relationship between UV and skin cancer is not as clear cut as many believe. For instance, did you know that melanoma, the rarest but most deadly of skin cancers, often develops on the sole of the foot or lower in the leg, even under toenails… not necessarily the prime places on the body exposed to sunlight regularly. So I really feel like the genetic make-up of a person would be a determining factor as to whether or not UV exposure is risky. That also makes sense to me given the way that skin type is taken so seriously with salons when evaluating what is the safest way to tan. Skin type 1 is turned away from tanning beds because there is too much risk of burn.  There seems to be an assumption by the press and even the general public that using UV lamps/ beds is an automatic skin cancer sentence.

There was also an article this week about risks associated with the UV lamps that nail salons use.  I simply can’t believe how over the top the UV light panic is. Nail salons use these lamps for curing gel nails and your fingertips are in there for about 30 seconds. The gel polish lasts for over 2 weeks so exposure is unbelievably minimal, yet there was enough of a panic about the exposure to conduct a study. You get more exposure walking to the salon from your car!

My daughter in middle school was discussing tanning with some of her friends at school and she mentioned how her mom goes to a tanning salon. Her friends all said the same thing; “She is going to get skin cancer” it is rampant. Full blown panic from over-hyped and inaccurate statistics drilled into our heads by the same people that are telling us to slather chemical sunscreen all over our bodies every single day. Those people are the ones selling the chemical sunscreen so they have a vested interest in keeping the hype and panic alive.

To be clear, chances are if I end up with skin cancer it will be from the terrible burns I have suffered throughout my life before I started tanning. I truly believe that. I also feel the minor risk associated with UV lamps is better than the major risks of having a low Vitamin D level. A risk I am willing to take so I choose to tan. 

This panic is perpetuated by the media by not having an objective view of what the risks and benefits are. I rarely see anything talking about how tanning is a viable option to raise Vitamin D levels.  There isn't a balanced approach and it gives tanning terrible publicity. Reports and articles are skewed to the negative more often than not and I am here to say there is good that can come from tanning. Don’t Panic.

The article about how genetics figures in to skin cancer is linked here:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunscreen in Winter

Lately I have been seeing several articles suggesting that we all wear as much sunscreen in the winter as we do in the summer. The last report I read says a shot glass full of sunscreen on our bodies every day. 

We are currently in Vitamin D winter here in the U.S. Because of the position of the earth during these months we can’t really get UV exposure enough for the body to produce an adequate amount of Vitamin D. If your skin isn't getting enough sunlight to produce Vitamin D, it isn't getting enough to burn easily. So why are these reports saying sunscreen is still so important?  I posted this info in my earlier blog post about Vitamin D Day, but it is still relevant so here it is again. notice the statistic stating that the average American has a level of 22ng/ml and that number dips lower in the winter months. 

It is this kind of thinking that made me Vitamin D deficient for so many years, and for no benefit at all. I see it and hear it all the time. TV commercials tell us to use sunscreen, open a magazine and look at all the ads for products touting their SPF level and they are all pushing the high SPF numbers. (Which are totally unnecessary by the way, anything over a 20 or 25 SPF is just another marketing ploy.) Sunscreen is only to be used to prevent sunburn. These companies can’t legally sell their product for any other reason. But they make billions telling us to over-use it. Until recently, I bought into it, I over-used it, and I’m not going back to a life hiding from the sun. Take a look at my earlier blog posts and you will see what that did for me.  There is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency perpetuated by Dermatology and these companies saying that we should block the sun at all times. The message needs to change to a more responsible one, but that won’t happen considering the amount of money to be made if everyone continues to slather on chemical sunscreen every day. So they will continue to try to scare us about the dangers of the sun with their inaccurate statistics and misleading information.

Let’s put down that sunscreen and live life without fear.  Use it when you need it, but realize you don’t need it as much as they say.