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Last month I hinted that sunshine was a crucial element for all living things to be healthy. It's ironic that I chose this topic this month as the weather gets warmer, and also, just the other weekend I was lectured by the one and only Dr. Mercola about this very subject! Sunshine is a dire necessity to our health and well-being; without it we would be deficient and suffer from a number of calamities that affect our bones, risk of cancer, and also our melatonin levels (which controls the body's internal clock. Got Insomnia?). Not too long ago, it was considered “quackery” to believe that the sun helped fight the risk of cancer and was actually good for you! However, a recent study showed that 60% of the 1,200 females involved in the recent American study reduced their risk of cancer more than those taking vitamin D supplements. This is a major breakthrough because just a week prior to this study's results, Dr. Mercola – who's website is one of the biggest on holistic nutrition – was criticized for telling people that the sun will decrease your risk of cancer. We've all heard for years how you should put on sunblock before going outside because the sun will give you cancer, but now we can file that in the list of other myths that have been fed to us.

Now, I also mentioned vitamin D; what's up with that you ask? Well, for those that don't know, about 20 minutes of sun exposure will actually create vitamin D in our body! This is the natural way of getting vitamin D. Vitamin D has some wonderful benefits, as it:

  • Regulates the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood by promoting their absorption from food in the intestines, and by promoting re-absorption of calcium in the kidneys.
  • Promotes bone formation and mineralization and is essential in the development of an intact and strong skeleton
  • Affects the immune system by promoting immunosuppression, phagocytosis, and anti-tumor activity.

You can find Vitamin D naturally (very important! Whole-food nutrition is the best kind of nutrition!) in some different foods such as:

  • Fish liver oils
  • Fish, such as:
    • Catfish
    • Salmon
    • Mackerel
    • Sardines
    • Tuna
    • Eel
  • One whole egg
  • Shiitake mushrooms (a great source of Vitamin D for Vegans)

In their article Shady Sunscreen Lies Exposed!, writes:

Fear of skin cancer from excessive UV exposure is not an irrational one, since some 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the United Sates, according to Earl Mindell in Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible. There are also plenty of warnings about how too much sun can cause premature aging or increase the risk of eye problems like cataracts or macular degeneration, which can lead to total blindness.

However, these unwanted effects only appear in individuals who suffer from nutritional deficiencies, especially with antioxidants. A lack of eye-protecting antioxidants such as those found in berries (like vitamin C, anthocyanins, etc.) allows UV rays to do harm in ways that would normally not occur in a healthy individual. Thus, the "harm" from UV rays is primarily caused by malnutrition, not simply by exposure to UV rays.

While talking to my best friend the other day, I was telling her about this article and she asked me about tanning beds, wondering if they provided sufficient UV. Accourding Dr. Mercola, the answer is yes you can get UV from tanning beds, but they can give you cancer at the same time because of the chemicals in the bulbs. So my advice: stay away from them. It's so much healthier to just go outside and tan in your back yard for free than to sit in an artificial light box. This follows suite with what I was saying earlier about “whole-food nutrition”; getting something straight from the original source will always prove to be the most bountiful.

On Monday, there was breaking news that Canada is now issuing a national program to prevent cancer using vitamin D. The article goes on to describe how this supplement alone could help to reduce cancer by more than 75%, making it the single most effective medicine for preventing cancer that has ever been discovered by modern medical science.

 All that health talk aside, sunlight is important for something else: balancing out melatonin levels. Melatonin is the chemical in your brain that acts as your internal clock; when this is out of whack, you'll feel it with daytime drowsiness as well as insomnia. When you study nutrition, you also start to learn how to counteract a lot of things that may go wrong with the use food or a change in environment. In this case, I'll explain a method I use to stay awake when I'm nodding off at 5pm or 6pm at home and it's not even bed time yet: turn on some lights! When we are in a room with little to no lighting, it can fool our body to believe that it's night time and for thousands of years, human beings have always gone to bed at night and gotten up at daylight; it has only been in the past hundred years that we've begun to deviate from nature, and that's created many new unexperienced problems. I always go to bed at 12am and get up at 7am; this is my schedule. Some nights it will be as early as 6pm and I feel myself nodding off, and that's a bit too early for me! So, what I will do is turn on my lights (my room has only two lighting modes: too much, and too little. Therefore, I usually opt for the “too little”) and within minutes I will perk up. This alleviates the need for something else that can be dangerous: caffeine (I'll see if I can write an article about that in the coming months).

So what we can now see, is that simply by using nature as our ally, we can keep our internal clock balanced, and keep ourselves at a much greater risk of developing cancer. Sunlight is indeed our friend, and now science has given us the studies to prove it!

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