By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute….
I sent this letter to a good friend who just suffered a triple compression fracture while doing yoga. She is a dynamic and accomplished person who has been a competitive athlete for much of her life, and has helped many people to save their lives from various diseases through her books and lectures. Many would think her vegan lifestyle would have protected her against weak bones. However, after having a common skin cancer appear on her body, her dermatologist told her to avoid the sun. She stopped most of her sun exposure and didn’t take vitamin D. Her bones had previously been exceptionally strong for her age. Obviously, the change in sun habits had very deleterious effects, as I explained in the letter. Her name has been changed for the purpose of this blog.
Dear Barbara,It is great to hear from you! I only wish the circumstances were better for you.Unless you are sunbathing regularly, the recommendation for 1,000 IU of vitamin D is woefully inadequate. For someone with weak bones, 5,000 IU would be my suggestion. Does my memory serve me right about your having a skin cancer? If you started avoiding sun exposure after that time, then that is the reason for your bone weakness. Sun exposure is the best way to obtain vitamin D and many other photoproducts such as nitric oxide and serotonin. Endorphins are also produced by sun exposure.Women in Spain who actively seek the sun have about 9% of the risk of a fracture as women who stay indoors. Or stated another way, women who avoid the sun have 11 times the risk of fracture. And of course, the few fractures experienced by sun seekers are probably due to some traumatic incident, not weak bones. Sunning per se is far more effective than vitamin D supplementation per se for producing and maintaining strong bones. Sun exposure is also far more effective that a vegan diet, although the diet certainly reduces the risk. Nonetheless, vegans who avoid the sun, because they believe their alkaline diet will totally protect them, are setting themselves up for fractures. Athletes who believe that exercise will protect them are also making a mistake. Sun is the great bone protector.For light-skinned Caucasians, 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure at midday, on each side of the body, will produce about 20,000 IU of vitamin D. Naked at noon is the best, if you can find a place to be private. Don’t burn as your skin becomes used to it. Remember also that melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, is about twice as common among indoor workers as outdoor workers who are habitually in the sun. Occasional blasts of sun that burn you, however, may increase the risk. Don’t burn. “Habitually” is the operative word for sunbathing.The non-melanoma skin cancers(NMSC), aka common skin cancers, are a different story; sun exposure does increase the risk. However, these cancers are almost never fatal, and if caught early can be removed immediately. People who have high numbers of these cancers have far fewer melanomas. Also, your diet of dark greens and colorful fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, pomegranates, is protective against developing these cancers.Remember also that sunscreens are deadly and their use is associated with an increase in melanoma. They will halt vitamin D production by about 99% in the area that is covered with them.I would suggest that you go to my blog site, http://sunlightinstitute.org/ and search osteoporosis, bone and fracture. I wrote a short article last week on osteoporosis in sunny areas (reason: too much indoor living, and too much clothing). There are many more blogs on the site that talk about bone strength. Go to News and then use the search bar there.Another suggestion. If you still have my book Vitamin D3 and Solar Power, read the section on bone health. There is much more information now, but the information in the book will serve as a guide.My new book, Embrace the Sun should be available sometime this summer.One last thought, women who totally avoid the sun are at 1,000% increased risk for breast cancer compared to women who are regularly exposed.Sunshine and blessings,MarcDon’t make Barbara’s mistake. Safely soak up some midday sun and preserve your bones.