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Home > Feature Articles > Health and Well Being Strategies

The New Miracle Cure: 20 Minutes of Sunshine!

Evidence suggests that people deficient in vitamin D have higher risks of cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and heart attacks.

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Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin

Medical researchers are homing in on a wonder drug that may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases -- sunshine.

A study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who are deficient in the so-called sunshine vitamin -- vitamin D -- have more than double the normal risk of suffering a heart attack.

This adequate level of vitamin D can be obtained by many people from 20 minutes in the sun -- and is crucial to maintaining good health.

There is controversy about what should be considered an adequate level of the compound in the blood, but sentiment is gradually shifting toward a higher intake of vitamin D being crucial to well-being.

A growing body of evidence suggests that people who are deficient in vitamin D have higher risks of cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and, according to the most recent study, heart attacks.

Here's what you need to know:

Levels of Vitamin D

  • Current recommendations call for an intake of 400 IUs, or international units, for most people, twice that for the elderly.
  • Recommended blood levels are about 30 nanograms per milliliter.
  • Many researchers recommend consuming 1,500 to 2,000 IUs per day and attaining blood levels of 50 to 60 nanograms per milliliter.

Sources of Vitamin D

  • Ultraviolet B in sunlight converts natural precursors in the body into vitamin D. Sunbathing at noon in summer produces 20,000 IUs in 20 minutes in Caucasians. Additional exposure simply damages the skin. Darker-skinned people require three to five times as much exposure to produce the same amount. Sunblock interferes with production.
  • The primary dietary source is oily fish and fortified milk, margarine and fortified cereal. Fish has about 350 IUs per serving. Milk contains about 100 IUs per glass, and margarine has about 60 IUs per tablespoon.

Darker-skinned people need three to five times the exposure to produce the same amount. Sunblock interferes with production by screening out ultraviolet light.

The primary sources of vitamin D in the diet are milk, which is fortified to yield about 100 IUs per glass, and oily fishes, which have a high content. To have an adequate intake, most people must take supplements or spend more time in the sun -- a recommendation that dermatologists generally oppose because of the risk of skin cancer.

In the new analysis, Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard School of Public Health and his colleagues studied 18,225 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, a subgroup of a much larger ongoing study. When they controlled for all other possible factors, such as hypertension, obesity and high lipid levels, the risk was still twice as high as it was for the controls.

Source: Read more at LA Times

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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