Summer is here, which means longer, sun-filled days and warm temperatures that lend themselves to outdoor activities. If you’re a fan of the warmer weather, then you’ll love this little known fact: Moderate sun exposure helps the body maintain healthy skin, bones, and teeth.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is imperative to strong, healthy bones. It helps your body absorb calcium, which is an essential component of your skeleton. The sun has also been said to provide anti-depressant side effects, which is why so many psychiatrists recommend phototherapy and natural light to fight off seasonal depression during the dark, winter months. Better sleep, cancer protection, and heart disease prevention are also linked to adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
The Holistic Connection: Vitamin D and Oral Health
There’s also a strong connection between Vitamin D and oral health. Your jaw is made of bones, and lacking the proper amounts of Vitamin D interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium to keep the mandible strong. Incorporating more Vitamin D in your body is a necessary step to reverse the damage associated with TMJ, a condition that compromises jaw bone health over time. Don’t forget that your teeth are made of calcium, as well. Without Vitamin D, your teeth fail to re-mineralize, which could lead to cavities and dental caries. Finally, Vitamin D reduces inflammation and helps diminish the risk of periodontal disease.
That being said, most health conscious individuals understand the effects of too much sun. Most notably, melanoma is caused by over exposure to harmful sunrays. Unfortunately, melanoma is the most common form of cancer, but it’s widely preventable with sun safety techniques.
At the same time, avoiding the sun altogether can be even more harmful to your health. A study conducted by The Independent showed that out of nearly 30 thousand subjects, the mortality rate for women who avoided sun exposure was about twice as high as those who spent extended time in the sunlight.
Therefore, it’s important to have balance. Laying out in the sun everyday for hours on end could be harmful, but trapping yourself in the confinements of an interior room without windows is even worse.
Rather than slather on dangerous, chemical-filled sunscreens in environmentally harmful packaging, consider some natural, holistic ways you can protect your skin from the sun while still absorbing your fill of healthful Vitamin D.
Foods that Protect You From the Sun
Everyone has to eat. Why not incorporate foods that can help mitigate your melanoma risks and kill two birds with one stone?
Watermelons, pink grapefruits, and apricots are all high in lycopene, an antioxidant that defends against free radicals. Red fruits are great at protecting against sun damage. Cooked tomatoes, which can be found in red sauces and pastes, are better vessels of lycopene that their raw alternatives. Watermelons are the top contender with 40 percent more lycopene than tomatoes.
Also rich in antioxidants, just one half cup of broccoli per day is full of sulphoraphane. Sulphoraphane aids in shielding cells from damaging UV rays. Other vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale, romaine, spinach, and cilantro not only prevents but also repairs damage from sun exposure.
If you live near water, you probably indulge in fish from time to time. The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon, sardines, herring, algae, and seaweed help protect against melanoma. If you’re not a fish fan, you can find omega-3s in flax, hemp, and chia seeds – all three of which are easy additions to a breakfast smoothie or yogurt.
Dark Chocolate and Cacao
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, allowing yourself 70 percent or higher cacao-containing dark chocolate protects against sunburns and skin cancer. Keep in mind that while dark chocolate contains phenols and catechins, adding milk prevents proper absorption of certain plant chemicals that can help with skin protection.
To wash it all down, go with antioxidant-rich black, white, or green tea. Green tea has the highest amount of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol that prevents skin cancer and delays skin aging.
Vitamin D Supplements
If you want to limit your time outside without fearing a lack of Vitamin D, you can also take supplements.
The recommended dosage of vitamin D is as follows (the increase in concentration is due to a higher risk of osteoporosis and arthritis during the latter stages of life):
- 600 IU for adults ages 31 to 70
- 800 IU for adults ages 70+
Important: Always consult your physician prior to taking health supplements or making changes in your diet or exercise regimen.
Many studies are showing that more Americans are actually heavily deficient in Vitamin D, and some physicians may recommend as much as 5000 IU daily, depending on your personal vitamin levels and health risks.
Vitamin D Education at Assure A Smile
Our holistic dentistry wants to teach patients more than just oral health. As mentioned above, Vitamin D plays a significant role in the health of your teeth, jaw, skin, and bones. We can help you determine how a lack of Vitamin D may be affecting your oral health, and subsequently leading to other long-term, debilitating illnesses.
Visit Assure A Smile online or contact our office at 305-274-0047 for more information on vitamins, nutrition, and holistic dentistry.