Thursday, April 20, 2006

Vitamin D

Alright, so we've got all this conflicting data on sunlight. On the one hand, if the sun ever touches our skin, we're going to die of skin cancer. On the other hand, recent studies are linking digestive cancers in men and breast cancers in women to a lack of vitamin D.

Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin.

So which is it? Sunshine? Suntan Lotion?

Like all things, the answer is moderation.

See, here's how vitamin D works. The vitamin is not actually carried in the sunshine. Instead, sunshine causes the "previtamin" D3 to be created in our skin, which our kidney and liver then turn into the vitamin D our Moms told us about when they wanted us to go outside and leave them alone.

It's possible to get some Vitamin D from food, but it's vitamin D2, the sloppy inferior sequel in the vitamin D trilogy, kind of like how most people feel about Back to the Future 2 compared with Back To The Future 3.

So get to the point, Erik. What's the happy compromise?

Well, according to some, the answer's about 7-8 minutes on a sunny day. And it doesn't matter really how much skin's exposed, so you don't have to take your shirt off. That's short enough that you're okay, skin-cancer and sunburn-wise. And your body doesn't produce that much extra Vitamin D if you go any longer.

So our answer is to wait until we've walked to the park or pool or wherever we're taking the kids and then put on the lotion. That's long enough to give them the Vitamin D goodness and yet still keeps them safe from those harmful UV rays in the long term.