The Importance of Sun Exposure

Most of what you are being told about "Sunlight" is, at worst, a lie and at best, bad science. Sunlight is not the terrible cancer producing culprit that it is made out to be. In fact, the full-spectrum light of Sunlight (including the UV spectrum which has really been given a bum rap by the EPA, FDA and others) is, according to Joseph G. Hattersly (and based on the work of one of the world's leading photobiologists, John N. Ott, Sc.D.Hon.), beneficial, necessary, and "required for both physical and mental health, muscle strength, civilized behavior, energy and learning".1

While it is true that overexposure to UV radiation can cause tissue damage, there is one particular kind of ultraviolet light, "UV-C", that does the most tissue damage and causes a dangerous kind of skin cancer known as Malignant Melanoma. The catalyst of this damage and cancer is not normal exposure to sunlight at all. In fact, and this is really quite ironic, all those "Sunblocks" that are being urged upon you to block out "harmful UV rays," actually block out BENEFICIAL UVA and UVB rays, but NOT the dangerous UVC rays! Studies have actually shown that Fluorescent light, of the type most usually found in homes and businesses (not full-spectrum Fluorescent Lighting), actually promote melanoma -- not exposure to normal sunlight!2

How "GOOD" is proper Sun Exposure?:

The UltraViolet light coming to us from the hand of our Creator in the form of Sunlight actually has tremendous health benefits and healing power! Viruses and infectious organisms like E.coli do not do thrive when exposed to the ultraviolet light of the sun. UV light has been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of both Seasonal Depression (SAD) and non-seasonal depression. UV exposure actually helps your eyes (the retinal cells in your eyes will not divide and regenerate without it!) and may help reduce retinal degeneration (a leading cause of blindness in the elderly). The kind of light found in full daylight helps endurance and strengthens immunity. It is also beneficial for our emotions and moods (it has been shown to reduce aggressive behaviors and hyperactivity). According to Dr. Ott, "Every nutritional substance" (as well as medicines and drugs) "has a specific wavelength absorption. If those wavelengths are missing in the artificial light source a person is exposed to, then the nutritional benefits of the substance will not be utilized." In other words, we need exposure to UV light in order to properly utilize dietary nutrients. UV exposure can help skin conditions like Psoriasis. UV exposure can also help eliminate a form of heart desease known as "calcific myocarditis"3 and can inhibit tumor development.4 Exposure to Sunlight also increases the number of white blood cells in our blood (these blood cells are part of our immune system's response to illness-causing organisms and infections). Sunlight also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and it increases the production of Serotonin (a chemical produced in the brain that effects mood, sleep patterns, body temperature and even our sex drive). There is also some evidence that exposure to the UV rays of sunlight reduces the risk of Multiple Sclerosis (especially when a person gets enough exposure in early childhood).5

One of the greatest benefits of natural sun exposure is its amazing ability as a catalyst for the production of Vitamin D in our bodies. Our bodies will produce Vitamin D, naturally and freely, if we will expose ourselves to natural sunlight and a regular basis (note: this exposure does not have to be for long periods of time -- 15 to 30 minutes a day 3-4 times a week is enough to gain the benefit). Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin but a hormone-like substance that the body can only produce when it gets enough sunlight. Vitamin D is absolutely essential for the proper absorption, utilization, and preservation of calcium in our bodies and bones. Without sufficient Vitamin D we are susceptible to bone loss (de-calcification, or Osteoporosis). This is one of the reasons that we have seen such an increase in this disease. Susan Clark, writing on "The benefits of Sunlight", points out that "90% of westerners now spend 90% of their waking time indoors (emphasis mine).6 Is it any wonder that we are Vitamin D deficient and that so many people suffer from Osteoporosis?! According to Dr. Michael Holick, Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer and even effects diabetes and obesity. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked as a cause of autism in children.

In the e-book "The Healing Power of Vitamin D and Sunlight" (Compiled by Mike Adams, based on an interview with Dr. Michael Holick, author of "The UV Advantage", and downloadable free at Truth Publishing.com and then clicking on the "Free Ebooks" tab) there are several lists of fascinating facts concerning Vitamin D and Sunlight Exposure which I am reproducing here for your benefit. They are:

  1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposureto ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.
  2. The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
  3. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way togenerate vitamin D in your own body.
  4. A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
  5. The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
  6. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 - 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men -- it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
  7. Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
  8. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight:it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.
  9. Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability togenerate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease -- by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
  10. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
  11. If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.
  12. Vitamin D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.
  13. Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
  14. The sunscreen industry doesn’t want you to know that your body actually needs sunlight exposure because that realization would mean lower sales of sunscreen products.
  15. Even though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body, your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.
Diseases and Conditions Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency:
  • Osteoporosis is commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium absorption.
  • Sufficient vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
  • "Rickets" is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
  • Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
  • Obesity impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
  • Vitamin D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
  • Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% - 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
  • Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.
Here are some statistics that should make you sit up and take note:

Shocking Vitamin D Deficiency Statistics:
  • 32% of doctors and med school students are vitamin D deficient.
  • 40% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
  • 42% of African American women of childbearing age are deficient in vitamin D.
  • 48% of young girls (9-11 years old) are vitamin D deficient.
  • Up to 60% of all hospital patients are vitamin D deficient.
  • 76% of pregnant mothers are severely vitamin D deficient, causing widespread vitamin D deficiencies in their unborn children, which predisposes them to type 1 diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia later in life. 81% of the children born to these mothers were deficient.
  • Up to 80% of nursing home patients are vitamin D deficient.

The best way to remedy this problem really isn't through the use of supplements (although supplementing is better than continuous deficiency), but through simple, free exposure to Natural Sunlight! How hard is that?!

What about Tanning?

Much of the misconception and misinformation propagated today surrounds Tanning. Government Health agencies and their advocacy groups would lead you to believe that any kind of tanning is "bad". They act like being out in any kind of sunlight is detrimental to our health. As you have seen, it is not. But there is big money to be made in the "Sunscreen" and "Suntanning" business! And so, we are encouraged to slather on more goop than Tammy Fae whenever we are headed out of doors. All of this is not necessary.

I don't want to leave you with the impression that there is never any need to put on protection -- especially when you are likely to be in intense sunlight for prolonged periods of time -- but that "need" can be drastically reduced by using a few, simple, common sense things.

First, if you are fair skinned, or just starting to get real sun exposure, it is a very good idea to limit your exposure to just a few minutes at a time. If you are going to be "laying out" in the sun, start with only a few minutes (say 5-10) and gradually work your way up to longer exposure times over the course of several days and weeks. As you gradually increase the time of your exposure, your skin has time to adjust to the change.

There are many people out there who decry Tanning, but I personally believe that it is not only healthy, but natural. People have been working and living out in the sun for thousands of years without getting cancer. In fact, the increase in skin cancers is a very recent phenomenon (historically speaking). Many people believe that this is due to the depletion of the Ozone layer (and they believe that this is the cause of global warming as well). Others seriously question this, and I tend to be in this camp. The reason that our planet is getting hotter more likely has to do with the fact that the Sun is actually getting hotter! One can hardly argue that the frozen moons of Jupiter are liquidizing (melting) because of "Ozone Depletion"! I don't argue the fact that pollution and other factors are contributing to our planet's warming but it seems even more incredulous to me to suggest that a person ought to smear on a bunch of Chemicals (which are absorbed through the skin and which react with sunlight and other chemicals) in order to "protect" themselves from the sun.

I have cooked professionally for much of my life and know that oils and fats will "go bad" quite quickly under the right conditions. It doesn't take too much intelligence to understand that "oils" go rancid when exposed to air and heat. So what happens to them when you put them on your skin, where they are baked in the sun, exposed to high temperatures and oxidation? If you look at the so-called sunscreens out there, I will wager that you can't even pronounce half the ingredients that are in them. Do we really believe that we can use these things with impunity and slosh them all over ourselves without consequence? If you really don't want to be overexposed to the sun, try wearing some cloths! Otherwise, learn how to expose yourself gradually and safely until you have built up enough of a tolerance to it so that you do not burn easily. If you are going to be out for an unavoidably long period of time, by all means use some protection - but use it sparingly.

A Note about Tanning beds:

Tanning beds make virtually no sense at all (except in terms of pure vanity). First of all, Tanning under those lights exposes you to a great deal MORE harmful UV radiation than does the sun. The intensity is tremendous. Then you consider how close you are to the source - usually only a couple of inches. Then, of course, you are using tanning lotions in conjunction with the oven treatment of light. Does it make any sense to you, aside from simply trying to "LOOK" good, to use these things? You are FAR better off tanning in the sun than you are in tanning salons.

A Final Note:

Sunlight is naturally good for you. The benefits are many and impressive. Exposure to the sun would do most people a great deal of good -- perhaps you are one of them. One does not have to "Tan" or lay out in the sun regularly to derive the benefits of sun exposure. As little as 15-30 minutes per day, 2-3 times per week, will give you all the benefits you need without the fear of dangerous overexposure. I would be remiss in my responsibilities if I did not enter a word of Caution concerning the use of certain medications and sun exposure. If you are taking medication or have any other health problems or concerns, you should consult your physician about whether you should be using sunscreens when you go out. But done intelligently, there is generally no need for sunscreens, sunblockers or oily lubricants that can often do more harm than good. ENJOY THE SUN! You will FEEL BETTER, you will LOOK BETTER, and you will enjoy BETTER HEALTH!

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REFERENCES:

  1. "Full Spectrum Light", Joseph G. Hattersley, 1999. 
  2. Malignant melanoma and exposure to fluorescent lighting atwork. Lancet 1982:Aug.7.
  3. Lecture to Society for Clinical Ecology, 1974.
  4. Hattersley.
  5. "The benefits of Sunlight", Susan Clark, 2008.
  6. Clark, 2008.  You may check out Susan's website at What Really Works.com. Susan's site endorses and contains information which includes Eastern Religions and New Age materials. It should be noted that I DO NOT endorse these things. However, there IS good information available here -- "try (as in "Test") all things, keep that which is good."


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