The Sun in Your Life

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In a few days, we will be in summer for real: sun is coming, temperatures are getting hotter and your swimsuit is already under your clothes!

It is true that it is very pleasant to eat outside and enjoy the warmness of the sun. But as you know that you must not overindulge in sweet things, you have to be careful with sun exposure. If you drink too much, you will be drunk and if you go out in the sun to excess, you will be burnt!

But the sun is not your enemy: you need it. When ultraviolet rays strike your skin, they trigger vitamin D synthesis.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin you can find in few foods : milk, egg yolk, salmon, trout, tuna. And you need ultraviolet rays from sunlight to have the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D.

Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver and the second in the kidney.

Why do you need vitamin D?

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations. There is a very important mineral balance in your body and calcium and phosphate are a large part of it. Bone mineralization is directly dependent on this balance.

Vitamin D has other roles in the body:  modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation.

Vitamin D is needed at any age because it helps preventing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. These diseases are no longer rare because there is a large deficiency in vitamin D rate in our population. People do not eat correctly, they prefer ready-cooked meals because they lack time and these ones are less concentrate in vitamins than fresh food. Moreover, they do not have a regular sun exposure to provide necessary ultraviolet rays to create vitamin D.

In other hand, sometimes, some people have too much sun exposure. We have already said it, striking a balance is the rule.

What are the consequences of too much sun exposure?

Of course, you can be burnt: your skin becomes red, it hurts and then it peels. But you are also at the risk of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer has a better prognosis, or outcome, than most other types of cancer. It is generally curable but it also kills a lot of people each year in the world. Melanoma is the most common but not the only one.

That’s why it is very important to protect yourself against too many ultraviolet rays.
Patients and people in general must examine themselves regularly and see a dermatologist as soon as they find something unusual or suspicious.

Protection from ultraviolet rays is important all year round, even if you do not see the sun in the sky, you should know that ultraviolet rays are not stopped by clouds!

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends easy actions to protect yourself from UV rays:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning: many people use a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan and it is very dangerous.

These recommendations are easy to adopt and they protect you again sun damages and skin cancer.

So, as we have seen, sun exposure is necessary but you have to be careful because excessive sun exposure can lead you to skin problems and cancer. Strike a balance and everything will be nice!

Laure Martinat


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