I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
Dorothea Mackellar penned this loving ode to Australia whilst on a trip to England, and anyone who has spent any time there during the blustery depths of January knows exactly how she feels. But back here in Australia, we have a more complicated relationship with the sun. It overstays its welcome sometimes. It comes off a bit intense. Sometimes, you just need to call time out. Because as much as I too love a sunburnt country, I hate a sunburnt back. Winter is beginning to fade, and we are looking down the barrel of December once more, so I thought I would give you all a crash course in the sun; what it does to us, for better or worse.
Let’s start with the benefits of exposure to the sun.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
You might have noticed in your own life that your mood tends to dip pretty significantly in the winter. The days seem darker in every single way. This is worse than just the winter blues, it is a genuine type of depression. And it is more prevalent than you think. Current estimates put it that between 2 and 9 percent of Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Curiously, 80% of these people will be women. It turns out that exposure to sunlight is actually crucial for your sense of happiness and wellbeing. But the most cruel part of this is that the acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder is… SAD. Talk about adding insult to injury! Studies have shown that Ostelin Vitamin D makes a difference here. In fact, it is as helpful as therapy in this case.
Vitamin D is an incredibly helpful nutrient that is extremely difficult to get from just food alone. The only real rich sources are found in fatty fish like salmon and fish liver oil. Given that these are hardly daily meals in anyone’s life, most people have a serious deficiency, roughly 4 out of 10 people. But happily, there is one super easy way to pick up Vitamin D. That’s right. The sun. Step outside and soak up some of what a doctor friend of mine called ‘Benny Ds’ (beneficial rays of vitamin D). Obviously, this doesn’t give you permission to unroll the deck chair, oil yourself up and bask in the sun until you resemble a leather wallet. It looks like 15 minutes, three times a day. Of course, this is easier said than done. You might be fair skinned and sitting outside is tempting fate. You might work long hours and a light hearted frolic in the sunshine might be beyond you at this point. If so, Ostelin Vitamin D is a wonderful supplement to help you keep up your levels. I often say that in a perfect world you wouldn’t need supplements because you should be getting everything from your diet. Well, this is the exception. Ostelin Vitamin D would be my first pick for a necessary supplement.
Here is why it matters.
- Immune system. Studies from Japan have shown that children who took a supplement over the winter were less likely to contract the flu. Scientists are still figuring out whether this is a strong link, or whether its impact on your mood had a similar impact on your health. Either way, it is good news!
- Multiple Sclerosis. A good amount of Vitamin D could actually lower your chance of picking up this disease which attacks your central nervous system. And if you already have the disease, there is good evidence to suggest that it can soothe the symptoms and halt its progress.
- Heart attacks: The research in this field is very early days. The hypotheses have been made, now we just need to wait and see.
- Cancer: Vitamin D could help reduce your chances of picking up colon, prostate and breast cancers. In one trial, the test group’s risk of developing these cancers went down by a quarter when they were on supplements.
- Healthy Bones: The right amount of Benny Ds can help slow down your rate of bone loss. This will ultimately prevent you from getting osteoporosis in your twilight years. This means fewer fractures, less time spent in hospital, and more time living your life.
- Weight Loss: What can’t this plucky little vitamin do? Studies show that if you pair it with calcium, you stay feeling full for longer.
Of course, all know that the sun has ways to come back and sting us if we overindulge. Anyone who has thrown caution to the wind in an Australian summer can vouch for this.
The sun contains ultraviolet rays, whose long wavelength can penetrate deep into the layers of our skin. This low level radiation damages the skin cell, and the body responds by increasing blood flow to that area, which causes the inflamed skin. Sometimes, the damage is too far gone, and the skin cells have died. This is why you peel after a particularly bad burn, but it is also why this takes a few days. Your body is desperately trying to salvage the skin cells. Prolonged exposure eventually causes the growth of melanoma which can spread throughout your body and be potentially fatal. All those ads telling you to slip, slop and slap did so for very good reasons.
I only mention this as a sobering reminder to take the sun seriously. Yes, it helps with our mental health, and yes, it is a wonderful way to pick up Vitamin D which impacts our bodies in beautiful ways. But it is a double edged sword. It can just as quickly burn you, and endanger your life. Personally, I prefer Ostelin Vitamin D because it gives me the best of both worlds. All the benefits and none of the risks.
Floyd - Senior Pharmacist