Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Darkside Of The Brightside

One of the many things that were not quite right with me at the start of the year was that I had quite a serious Vitamin D deficiency going on.

I had half the amount of Vitamin D knocking around in my blood that I should have, so my doctor recommended I get on a vitamin supplement to bring me up to speed and then start spending a bit more time in the sun in order to keep myself topped up naturally.

A few months of little capsules later I was back on track but when I had looked into how much time I should spend in the sun, the information I found started doing my head in.

Vitamin D Facts
  • The body produces Vitamin D in response to the exposure of your skin to ultra violet radiation from sunlight.
  • You don't get any Vitamin D from the sunshine that falls on you through a glass window, you can however get sunburn.
  • If you're outside in the sunshine but slathered up with sunscreen, you will not produce/absorb enough or possibly any Vitamin D.
I picked up a couple of those information sheets about Vitamin D and being 'sunsmart' from the chemist and neither of those wanted to tell me precisely what to do either.

The Vitamin D fact sheet told me what I'd be susceptible to if I continued to have low Vitamin D (osteoporosis, increased risk of cancers and diabetes, all sorts of fun things) , the dietary sources of Vitamin D (fatty and/or deep sea fish, eggs, beef liver etc) and some benefits of having healthy levels of Vitamin D (better sleep, healthy bones and organs, not dying a painful deadly death) but nowhere did it recommend a safe time of day or period of exposure.

The Sunsmart fact sheet listed all the dangers of sunburn and excessive exposure to ultra violet radiation (melanoma, CANCER CANCER CANCER!) and all the things you can do to avoid sunburn and CANCER! (sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, long sleeved/legged clothing, staying out of the midday sun unlike mad dogs and Englishmen) but had no real information on Vitamin D.

I had a search online and found a few handy bits of information but no proper guidelines.
Nothing that said 'You should get at least X minutes of sun during the summer and X minutes of sun during the winter and should avoid sun exposure during hour Y and hour Z in order to minimise the likelihood of sunburn and adverse effects of sun exposure'.

I did find a website that claimed sunscreen companies are masterminding a fear campaign in order to sell more sunscreen and don't care that they are perpetuating a population-wide Vitamin D deficiency that is leading to weaker future generations who are conceived by Vitamin D deficient parents and who then have to live with the resultant health problems for the rest of their time on this Earth*.

The myotherapist I've been seeing to bang my arms back into shape after they crapped out at the start of the year recommended 20 minutes of sun exposure a day taken in the early to mid-morning or from the late afternoon until dusk to avoid the worst of the ultra violet madness in the middle of the day.
It was nice just to get some advice!

So what I've been doing is still applying sunscreen to my face but leaving my arms free and clear for about half an hour on my daily walk before slathering them up too and so far so good.

But it's difficult!

After so many years of having the Slip Slop Slap message drilled into us and the 'No hat, no play' policy at primary school, it's really hard to ignore the urge to dip yourself in SPF30+!

Behold the brainwashing messages that were in production before I was even born!

So I'm doing my best to walk the line between getting too much sun and not getting enough because from all indicators if I cock it up, I will die!

*The health problems from being conceived/gestated by Vitamin D deficient parents are quite real, I'm not sure about the conspiracy part.

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