When I was diagnosed with cancer in September 2013 one of the very first things my oncologist tested me on was my level of vitamin D.
It was off the charts low. This really should have been no surprise with amount I was working in a cube everyday and making sure to fully coat myself in sunscreen when I (infrequently) played outdoors. I had wrecked havoc on my level of the oh-so-important sunshine Vitamin. I was given a prescription to bring my level up to optimum amounts.
This deficiency is incredibly common. Not just for cancer patients but for most people that spend most of their time in doors and likely too much time in front of a screen.
Vitamin D is incredibly important for basically every cell in our body especially that of our immune system.
Think about cold and flu season, typically during the short day cold weather months where most are covered and bundled if outside at all.
But so many of us are scared to be outdoors or without sunscreen due to the fear of skin cancer. The reality is the threat of skin cancer is very real and very dangerous. I have met several skin cancer patients in treatment rooms getting very significant doses of chemo.
I am not advocating tossing the sunscreen! But what I am advocating is that we give ourselves a little time without it. Enough to satisfy our bodies need for the sun.
Think about that warm comfortable feeling when the sun first hits your skin. This feeling doesn’t last that long maybe 10-20 minutes (for fair skinned.)The best way I can describe it is therapeutic. Turns out that’s because it is! I am talking about the time before you start to get pink or hot, and definitely well before you burn!
The amount of sun time a person needs varies from person to person, just as our skin tone itself. Pasty folks like me may need as little as 15 minutes to get their vitamin D fix for the day where as darker skinned person may need a couple hours. The Vitamin D Council goes into depth about the variables. This site even has a suggested amount of sun time needed based on your skin tone and location.
As another survivor told me, “It’s hard for cancer to live in a body getting a bunch of Vitamin D.” She has recently celebrated her 5 year cancer free status and throughly enjoys her time gardening outside and taking daily walks.
Here are my suggestions:
- Daily get outside and get a bit of sunshine-drink your coffee outside, watch part of your kids game or practice in the sun, roll down the windows, open the blinds
- Get your Vitamin D level tested*
- Consider taking a Vitamin D3 Supplement
- When playing outside all day-WEAR sunscreen/cover up!
As with most of the tests taken at your doctors office-shoot for optimum not for normal. “Normal” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy it’s based on the average person’s numbers including cube dwellers.