Small Town News


The power of the sun

Sanborn Weekly Journal of Woonsocket, South Dakota

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There is something about the power of the sun. I was a 16-year-old Boy Scout on a canoe trip in northern Minnesota one summer, and we had been soaked with rain and chilled to the bone for two days straight. And then the sun came out, and I stretched out on a rock to gather some of its warmth.

At that moment I could feel the force of of Sol beaming into me, and I remember thinking how the suns radiation was the visible energy source for life on this earth, and I wanted more of it.

It must be a natural instinct to want exposure to the rays of the sun. Think about how people gravitate to the beach, and how sad some get in the days of the winter solstice when they don't get enough of it. But can you get too much?

The answer is yes. We know that excessive sun exposure causes premature aging with wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, rough skin, not to mention skin cancers, some of which are terrifically malignant. You hear and read everywhere the following words of advice: Stay out of the sun, use sunscreen, wear protective clothing and avoid tanning.

Recently, however, we have become more aware of the importance of enough vitamin D, which comes to us from the rays of the sun. We know that just about 50 percent of us don't have enough of it when measured by blood. It is also interesting to note that the other natural source of that vitamin comes from the oil of deep-sea fish.

Scientists have linked low levels of vitamin D not only with increased bone fractures and pain, but also with heart disease, diabetes and cancers of the breast, prostate and colon. Therefore I encourage people to take 2,000 units of vitamin D daily. We don't, however, know yet if giving vitamin D supplements will help.

Maybe we all need to get outside and gather in more of that sun ... just not too much of it.

Dr. Rick Holm wrote this editorial for "On Call'," a weekly program about health on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television that is produced by the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service. "On Call" airs Thursdays on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television at 7p.m. Central, 6p.m. Mountain.

Copyright 2009 Sanborn Weekly Journal, Woonsocket, South Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 23, 2009

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