The sun is an integral part of coastal living. It is part of our day and good for our health too says Sam Beau Patrick.
As cases of melanomas in Australia continue to rise, many are avoiding the sun thinking of it as unhealthy. Some go so far as to deem it evil which is a complete misconception.
Daily sun exposure is essential for vitamin D production and has been identified by Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, as one of the key ingredients for a healthy and long life.
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The sun on our skin helps our body to produce Vitamin D which is a key vitamin and hormone. Benefits of Vitamin D to our bodies are plentiful; it helps to prevent cancer (by imploding mutating cells), strengthens bones, helps our eye sight, and strengthens our immune system. It also keeps us happy with balanced happy hormones – it is my favourite vitamin!
To be safe, everyone should have an annual skin cancer check-up for peace of mind. If there are results you need to act on, you can do this quickly rather than leaving it for too long.
Be aware that if you a melanoma risk – if you have fair, freckly Anglo skin, or Negro skin – too much sun exposure can trigger skin cancers. If you have these skin types, an annual check-up is even more important.
Current Vitamin D research in Australia indicates different deficiencies in different subgroups. The biggest study, published in 2012, measured over 24,000 people’s vitamin D levels in Sydney and found 58% of people were low in Vitamin D. Sub populations and range of people at risk of vitamin D deficiency is broad and rising.
Office workers are within a high risk category. As they travel to work in the early morning and don’t leave their building until it is dark again meaning they get no sun exposure at all during the course of the day. Those working night shifts who sleep during the day are also in this high risk category as are people who avoid any sun exposure at all by wearing total coverage clothing.
After researching vitamin D for years, I believe it is important and essential to ensure your levels are optimal. I have devised my SMART sun exposure guide below. Your doctor can check your levels in Australia for free. I suggest aiming to be over 100 (the range is 50-300).
Sam Beau Patrick’s SMART sun exposure:
Small bursts of sun (don’t fry and avoid long periods of exposure, or wear a long sleeved shirt if you are going to be in the sun all day)
Middle of the day (UVB rays are those in the middle of the day, when your shadow is shorter than your height. It is these rays that make the valuable vitamin D)
Arm or leg for 20 minutes a day is enough exposure
Review your skin at a skin cancer centre annually
Test your Vitamin D levels with your doctor and aim to be over 100.
Some great Vitamin D locations to take the kids…
- Burleigh Hill, rock hopping
- Brunswick Heads River, kayaking
- Currumbin Alley stand up paddling
- Surfers Paradise, eating an ice cream on the iconic landmark
- Snapper Rocks, watching some of the best breaks in the world
This article was authored by Sam Beau Patrick and originally appeared in Ocean Road Magazine. It has been republished with permission.
Sam Beau Patrick is a five time author, and natural hormone expert working from Mermaid Waters on the Gold Coast.
Ref 1 S. Boyages and K. Biliniski, Seasonal reduction in vitamin D level persists into spring in NSW Australia: implications for monitoring and replacement therapy. Clinical Endocrinology 2012, Vol 77 Issue 4, p: 515-523.