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Dec 10, 2009

Dr Frank Lipman, a newer member of Care2, is contributing interesting health articles. I especially appreciate Dr Lipman's enthusiasm for changing the way (American) children are educated and fed. Bravo!
*N.B. from Jenny. As this following article was written for American readers, I think it would be advisable for Australian (and New Zealand?) readers to double-check with their doctors before making changes to their habitual sun-exposure practices. 
This blog has been adapted (i.e. paraphrased etc by me) from a post by Dr. Frank Lipman in Care2's 'Greenliving' section

Doctors usually advise us to avoid the sun.
What does Dr Lipman think?

There is an old Italian saying...
Where the sun does not go the doctor does.

In the last 25 yrs, doctors (esp. dermatologists) have demonized sun exposure and repeatedly told us it is bad for you and causes cancer. But lately studies have shown that modest exposure to sunlight may actually be good for you, helping the body produce the vitamin D it needs to keep bones healthy and protect against cancer, including skin cancer
It’s almost impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food alone; sun is the best source.
 DON'T go bake in the sun or tanning salons. 
 DO get some sun without getting burned.

All you need is a little common sense when heading
outdoors; do it gradually and always avoid sunburn
 Remember to take antioxidants when
 you sit in the sun, as these can help
 prevent skin cells from sun damage.

How much sunshine do you need?
All living things need sun, the key is balance.

Too much sun exposure can cause melanoma and skin aging, while too little creates an inadequate production of vitaminD. The amount needed depends on the season, time of day, where you live, skin pigmentation and other factors.
*If you are not vitaminD deficient, about 20 minutes a day in the spring, summer and fall on your face and arms or legs without sunscreen is adequate.
It doesn’t matter which part of the body you expose to the sun. 
 If living further from the equator
  you need longer sun exposure  
  in order to generate vitaminD.

Why are tanning beds not recommended?
...because light sources vary with different tanning beds, so they are unpredictable;
...because most commercial tanning beds emit an unknown amount of EMF - it may be an unnecessary high dose.
Can I take cod liver oil to get my vitaminD?
No. Even though Cod liver oil contains vitaminD, it also contains high amounts of vitaminA. VitaminA antagonizes the action of vitaminD and can be toxic at high levels.

What are food sources of vitamin D?
--Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil.
--Fatty wild fish like mackerel, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines and herring
--Fortified milk, orange juice and cereal
--Dried Shiitake mushrooms
--Egg yolks
(But to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food, you would have to eat at least 5 servings of salmon a day or drink 20 cups of fortified milk.)
How much vitamin D do I need?
As a general rule, old people need more than young people, big people need more that little people, fat people need more than skinny people, northern people need more than southern people, dark-skinned people need more than fair skinned people, winter people need more than summer people, sun block lovers need more than sun block haters, sun-phobes need more than sun worshippers, and ill people may need more than well people.
What Dr Lipman and colleagues (*ie America) are finding is that even people spending what we thought was adequate amount of time in the sun, are still showing up with low blood vitamin D levels.
I am not sure why at this stage, but there is an easy and cheap solution: vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D supplements (see more in original article) 
 N.B. take vitaminD3, (cholecalciferol)
  the active form of vitaminD.
DON'T take vitaminD2 -it is not as biologically active nor as effective, and nor as safe as vitaminD3.
And taking the right amount is crucial, most doctors tend to under dose. See original article and your doctor for dosage guidelines
It takes a good 6 months usually to optimize your vitamin D levels if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 - 4,000 IU a day.
What about vitamin D toxicity?
 It is impossible to generate too much 
 VitaminD in your body from sunlight
 exposure: your body self-regulates;
 only generate what it needs.

Although very rare, it is possible to overdose and become toxic with supplementation ...if you are taking 5,000 IU or more daily, you should have your blood levels monitored approximately every 3 months.
Frank Lipman MD, is an author, and founder/director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, NYC. Emphasis is on preventive health care and patient education; Western/Eastern medicine plus other complimentary modalities. Hompage: 
Skin Cancer Statistics Within Australia 
Cancer Council Australia 
SunSmart; Risks and benefits of sun exposure 
According to Cancer Council Australia, "The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best source of vitamin D. In Australia, we need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency."


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Jenny Dooley
, 3, 2 children
Eastlakes, SW, Australia
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