The Other Side of the Sun Debate

We’re all being told these days that getting too much Sun can be dangerous. But are fears of UV rays keeping us from getting enough sunlight? A new report from Canada suggests that we may be avoiding the Sun to a fault.

Doctors have long known there are two sides to the issue of getting direct sunlight. On the one hand, there are the skin cancer dangers posed by UV rays. On the other hand, we need to be in direct sunlight in order to get enough vitamin D.

A recently published study Sunlight and Vitamin D: Necessary for Public Health by Carole Baggerly and several academic researchers, looks at these two poles of debate.

Too Much Sun; Too Little Sun – Both Are Unhealthy

The study authors look at how organizations such as World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. Surgeon General call for Sun avoidance, but accuses them of ignoring how cutting out sunshine will reduce vitamin D.

Vitamin D is necessary for bone health, and the best way to get enough of it is to spend a certain amount of time in direct sunlight each day. The amount of time we need to spend in the Sun varies depending on the intensity of the sunlight, and the amount of clothing we are wearing.

During winter months in northern climes, people often don’t get enough exposure to sunlight – and the long-term health effects of this can include poor bone health.

Dr. Reinhold Vieth, Scientific Advisor for the Canadian Vitamin D Consensus and professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, said “If organizations warn people to stay out of the sun, then they should also let people know that they will not be producing vitamin D. Both the risks and benefits of UV exposure need to be addressed in the best interest of health.”

“Unfortunately, the message Canadians keep hearing lately is that there is no benefit to being in the Sun.” he said.

To know how much Sun you need to get, you should really consult your doctor. As we pointed out before, there is no set time limit, since it all depends on where you live, how cloudy a day it is and what you are wearing.

Suffice to say, though, avoiding the sun entirely can be as harmful to your health as spending too many hours being exposed.

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