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Sunshine is the Best Medicine!

The sun is shining and now is a perfect time to get outside. I have to admit I am a bit of a sun worshipper so was very happy to find some research to support my love of the sun. A study by Pelle Lindqvist, MD, found that women who seek out the sun had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-cancer/non-CVD diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary diseases, than those who avoided sun exposure. This isn’t to say that everyone should spend lots of time in the sun.

There is still a risk of skin cancer with the dangerous UVA and UVB rays. A good balance is required. Get sun exposure safely. Skin cancer is less common in those with more pigmentation in their skin and therefore can spend more time in the sun, getting the most benefit from the sun’s rays. Just remember, those with lighter skin, who burn easily, should use caution.

The positive effect of the study is likely correlated to increased vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is needed to form strong bones as it helps with the absorption of calcium. It is important in our immune function and it reduces inflammation thereby improving cardiovascular function, the respiratory system and decreases cancer risk. There is also a significant connection between low vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis.

If you are unable to get more sun exposure, consider supplementing with vitamin D year round. Tips to maximize vitamin D absorption from supplements: 1. Cholecalciferol, D3, is more potent and more bioavailable than ergocalciferol, D2. 2. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means that if your body is going to use it, it has to be dissolved in oil or fat.

Some supplements come this way and it will be labelled as such or oils will be in the ingredients. If you buy the white tablets, take them with oil, either fish oil or with a meal containing fats and oils. The recommended daily amount (RDA) in Canada is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children aged one to adults aged 70, and 800 IU for adults over 70. There is some controversy over the amount of vitamin D needed for healthy functioning, with the more recent research suggesting that the RDA needs to be increased. On the other hand, because vitamin D is stored in fat, there is risk of toxicity.

If you are unsure whether or not vitamin D supplementation is for you, or how much you should take, book an appointment with Dr. Alicia Motuz ND at 905-873-7330 or In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine!

Lindqvist P et al. (2016). 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. March 2016 {Epub ahead of print]

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