Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin known as “the sunshine vitamin,” helps the body absorb calcium and prevents a number of diseases, particularly those relating to bone health. While the amount of vitamin D recommended in your diet will vary from person to person, it is widely regarded as an important part of nutrition and wellness.
While vitamin D is naturally present in only a select few foods, most people know that our bodies can absorb vitamin through exposure to sunshine. As we head into the summer months, most skin health experts caution sunbathers everywhere against relying on the sun alone for their daily dose of vitamin D, as excessive amounts of sun can cause potentially fatal types of skin cancer.
Dr. Brooke Jackson, a board certified dermatologist and founder of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago tells her patients to practice smart sun habits all year round, but especially as the weather heats up.
A large part of maintaining excellent health is staying away from excessive carcinogens. Smoking, drinking and tanning, among many others, can all cause cancer. The World Health Organization recently classified indoor tanning as a class 1 carcinogen, placing it in the same ranks as tobacco. Some professionals argue for the occasional use of sun-therapy for the treatment of depression and dermatologic conditions. Alas, my purpose today does not include debating the safety of UV rays or the effectiveness of sun therapy – I’ll save that for another time.
The indoor tanning habits of more than 200 female students were studied at East Tennessee State University. The results were published by The Archives of Dermatology and brought to my attention, courtesy of The New York Times. Nearly 40 percent of the students went tanning for the first time with their mom. These girls were much more likely to become habitual tanners later in life. Girls who first went tanning with friends started, on average, at 16 years old. The other girls who went with their mom for the first time started much earlier, at about 14 years old. Dermatologists are concerned that indoor tanning at any age, but especially so young, greatly increases the person’s risk for skin cancer.
Broccoli has many health benefits. Protecting you from the sun may be the last thing that comes to mind. But researchers in the U.S. are finding an extract from newly sprouted broccoli helps fend off damage from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
So, eating and wearing broccoli are beneficial.
The extract, known as sulforaphane, reduced skin redness and damage by more than one-third compared with untreated skin, they said.
“This is a first demonstration that a human tissue can be protected directly against a known human carcinogen,” said Dr. Paul Talalay of Johns Hopkins University, whose study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is not a sunscreen,” Talalay said. The extract helped fortify skin cells to fight the effects of UV radiation as opposed to blocking the rays.
At the highest doses, the extract reduced redness and swelling by an average of 37 percent. The effect varied considerably with volunteers, ranging from 8 to 78 percent protection, due to genetic differences.
Skin cancer – the most common cancer in the U.S. – affecting more than 1 million Americans every year, according to the National Cancer Institute. It kills more than 10,000 people each year, which is about four percent of all cancer deaths.