Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Vitamin D Buzz

Vitamin D is all over the news. A new study has found that increased doses of daily vitamin D could decrease the chances of developing certain cancers, such as colorectal and breast cancers. In fact, they found a 60% of cancer incidence.

This led the Canadian Cancer Society to recommend that all Canadian adults take 1000 international units (UI) of vitamin D during the darker winter months. There has been a rush on vitamin D at the stores. The Montreal Gazette reported today that several city pharmacies were wiped out of their vitamin D supply. I don’t know, last time I checked, it’s June and sunny a good part of the day. A good *free* way to get vitamin D is to get it from the sun.

I take a regular multivitamin and there are 400 IU of vitamin D in the brand I take. I try to get out in the sun, walking the dog, gardening or sitting and reading the morning paper, and eat foods that have vitamin D in them. In the winter, I try to make a point of getting out on sunny days and expose my face to the sun for a bit, just for the sheer joy of feeling sunshine because I’m one of those people who has a hard time when the days are too grey.

Sunscreen has its place and I’m against the sun tanning that lots of people still do. I have blonde hair, very fair skin and green/yellow eyes. In other words, when I was a kid, I burned and burned and burned so many times, I couldn’t keep track. But, I also was never for the constant slathering of the highest SPF sunscreen available. We need the sun. For example, Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. Northern countries have much higher rates than countries in the south, which don’t have the short grey days we have. Is it connected to the sun? No fool-proof connection has been made yet, but it sure sounds suspicious to me. The sun is vital and, like almost everything, we went way too far the other way, from worshipping the sun to being terrified of it. While skin cancer is frightening, we can prevent it without totally eliminating the sun from our lives. With my pale, easily burned skin, I still spent 45 minutes this morning outside in the sun gardening, without sunscreen. I made sure I was in and out of the shade and I never stayed in the sun for more than 5 minutes straight. If I go outside in the sun again today, I will put on sunscreen because my skin was exposed to enough sun today. But tomorrow, I’ll likely try to spend at least a half hour enjoying the sun.

And, in the winter, I’ll increase my dose of vitamin D to 1000 IU until the summer sun rolls around again.

No comments: