Even though sun lovers have an increased risk of developing skin cancer, a recent Swedish study shows that those who sunbathe the most have a lower risk of dying of heart disease and other ailments. Therefore, be sure to get plenty of sun while you can so your body can produce generous amounts of vitamin D - but don't overdo it. Also, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter period when your body's levels of the nutrient have been depleted, as this may help you live longer.
If you want to delay the ageing process and live longer, you had better get plenty of sunshine to boost your vitamin D levels. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that the warnings against sun exposure are exaggerated and, conversely, that the need for vitamin D is underestimated at the expense of human lives.
Lack of sunshine is as dangerous as smoking
In a recent Swedish study, researchers studied the sun habits of 29,518 women by monitoring them for a period of 20 years. The study was initiated in 1990-92, and the women were aged 25-64 years. This comprehensive study revealed that women who sunbathed the most, had a lower risk of dying of cardiovascular disease and lived on average 0.6 - 2.1 years longer than those women who did not sunbathe regularly.
Furthermore, they found that those women who did not smoke and avoided sun exposure had the same life expectancy as those women who smoked and spent time in the sun. This indicates that avoiding sunshine is every bit as dangerous as smoking. The study, which is published in the Journal of International Medicine, supports earlier studies.
|Did you know that vitamin D is considered a hormone and that all cells need it?|
Vitamin D slows the ageing of cells
Even though the sun can be rather harsh on your skin, and extreme sunbathers tend to get more wrinkles, we humans need sunshine (without overdoing it), as vitamin D also has anti-ageing properties.
In an earlier study, researchers from King's College in London studied 2,160 women aged 18-79 years and found that those women who had the highest blood levels of vitamin D showed signs of having the slowest cellular ageing.
Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of cancer and early death
Scientists from Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark conducted a study of 96,000 people linking low blood levels of vitamin D to a 30 per cent increased mortality risk. The risk of cancer-related mortality specifically was 40 per cent higher among those with the lowest vitamin D levels. According to the researchers the big question is whether we should rely on vitamin D from sunshine, from the diet, or from supplements.
Lack of vitamin D may cause:
The synthesis of vitamin D and our actual need
It is estimated that 30 minutes of unprotected all-body sun exposure daily (during the summer months) helps the body produce around 260-625 micrograms of vitamin D. A person dressed in light summer clothing produces around 30 micrograms of vitamin D after 10-15 minutes. The daily reference intake (DRI) for vitamin D in many European countries is around 5-15 micrograms, but many experts claim that this is a far cry from the body's actual needs.
The body's ability to synthesize vitamin D and store in the liver differs from one person to another. A lot depends on skin type, age, the body's enzyme activity, and liver and kidney function. Overweight individuals and diabetics tend to be vitamin D deficient and therefore have a larger need for the nutrient than others.
Supplements during the winter period and in situations with lack of sunshine and vitamin D
Because the sun sits too low in the sky during the winter period for us Europeans to be able to synthesize vitamin D, scientists suggest the use of high-dosed supplements during the cold months. This is also the case with people who are veiled, work nightshifts, or use cholesterol-lowering medicine, which may cause a vitamin D deficiency. Humans are best able to absorb and utilize vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) dissolved in vegetable oil in gelatin capsules.
Lindquist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K et al. Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2016
Afzal Shoaib et al. Genetically low vitamin D concentration and increased mortality: mendelian randomization analysis in three large cohorts. British Medical Journal. 2014
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