Nutrition By Darren “Are you getting enough sunshine!?” You’ve likely heard it a trillion times or more. With mother’s day dawning upon us now, I wanted to take a deeper look into one of my mom’s favorite mom-isms. Working nights and commonly rising in the mid-late afternoon means that mom is right. I don’t get often get enough of those golden rays of life. Why does that matter? Well, ultimately life (and everything else) boils down to energy. Energy vibrating at different frequencies to be exact but let’s stick with Energy for now. In 2007, it was estimated that 1 Billion people worldwide were not getting enough “SUN”. While the normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) is usually placed at between 400 to 600 IU (International Units), The Vitamin D Council and other Vitamin D specific researchers have found the level required to promote optimal health is over ten times that “normal” RDA. In fact, it was recently discovered that the number of 400-600 IU’s was in fact a mathematical calculation error and should never have been published at all. What you really want to know is your level/score of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D though, not the RDA as the RDA required to reach optimal levels of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D (the type that Cholecalciferol Vitamin D3 is eventually converted to that your body can use) of 40-80 ng/ml can vary widely between individuals. Serious health concerns can develop at levels of 20 ng/ml or lower. Shockingly, to get 97% of the population up to that extreme minimum of 20 ng/ml would require about 3,800 IU’s daily (in addition to everything they were already getting from the sun and food). A study published in The American Journal of Public Health found that people who have low levels of vitamin D in the blood are more likely to die prematurely than people who have normal levels. The analysis looked at data from 32 studies and found that people who had levels of below 9 ng/ml of blood had almost twice the risk of dying prematurely, as compared with people with levels of 50 ng/ml. No additional benefits were observed from levels above 50 ng/ml. The Color Wheel In grade school through researching and building a grand prize winning Science fair project on COLOR, I learned that Sunlight is made up of seven wavelengths or colors corresponding to the colors of the rainbow, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet (ROYGBIV). Sunlight looks white to us though because all those colors/wavelengths mix together to form white (black is the absence of color). Try cutting out a circle of white paper and then dividing it like a pizza into 7 slices. Color the slices one for each color of the rainbow (ROYGBIV). Hold up the wheel and stick a pen through the middle. Spin the wheel. The blending of the colors should look white. Newton’s Color Wheel from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project by Enrique Zeleny Prisms, Brix, and Refractometers Light refracts or bends when it passes from one medium to another. A prism can be used to see all the colours of the sun. So when light passes through a prism, it bends and each colour can be seen at a different angle. Every colour of sunlight has a different wavelength. When sunlight passes through a prism, the light separates into its constituent colours with the shorter wavelengths refracting at greater angles than the longer wavelengths. Violet light has the shortest wavelength so it bends the most while red light has the longest wavelength so it bends the least. Why should we care about this Refraction property of sunlight and what the heck does this have to do with Health and Nutrition!? Answer: Brix readings. Basically Brix is a density measurement of micronutrients obtained through a refractometer that measures the amount of refraction (or bend) in a beam of light that passes through a liquid, often plant sap. It is a sum of the grams of sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, hormones, and other solids in one hundred grams of plant juice. Ultimately you can use Brix readings to help determine the micronutrient (nutritional) value of your food. (Don’t worry, I’ll get more into “Measuring the Micronutrient Value of Food” in a later blogpost) Flying to the Sun takes a million years? [An International gathering of world leaders in science met in Geneva to discuss their latest findings. Each nation took a turn sharing its latest developments. The leader of one nation stood before the group and declared that they had devised a spacecraft which would allow their astronauts to fly directly to the sun. He was met with boisterous laughter from the audience, to which he boldly replied, “I know what you’re thinking, but we have a plan. We’re going to fly the ship at night!”] The Power of One: Hydrogen- The Primary Element Hydrogen makes up over 70% of the sun, with Helium and various traces of other elements making up the remainder. The source of the sun’s fuel is Hydrogen and through nuclear fusion (where Hydogen nuclei come together to form Helium), the Hydrogen gas is “burned” releasing an enormous amount of energy in the form of light and heat. This light and heat slowly makes its way from the core of the sun to the exterior and into the solar system over about a million years. What is Sunlight and why is it essential to life? Sunlight in science is defined as: the total frequency spectrum of the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by the Sun but on earth the atmosphere filters the sunlight before it reaches the surface. Sunlight basically is a mixture of electromagnetic radiation composed of visible light, infrared (IR), and ultraviolet rays (UV). The sunlight that makes it from the surface of the sun, across the solar system and through the Earth’s atmosphere has travelled over 90 Million miles in about 8 minutes to do much more than help you perfect that golden glow for beach season… UV Rays and Vitamin D Sunlight produces Vitamin D, or more specifically when the UVB portion of sunlight hits your skin, a chemical reaction is initiated that begins the process of producing Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). Vitamin D can also be obtained through the diet or from supplementation. 25 Benefits of Vitamin D 1. Bone Health 2. Muscle Strength 3. Muscle Power and Force Development 4. Lean Body Mass 5. Treatment of Psoriasis and Skin Disorders 6. Blood Sugar Regulation and Insulin Resistance 7. Preventing Multiple Sclerosis 8. Cancer Prevention 9. Asthma Treatment 10. Male Reproductive Health 11. Cardiovascular Health 12. Brain Health 13. Fetal Brain Development 14. Female Reproductive and Maternal Health 15. Treatment of Depression and Brain Disorders 16. Immune Function 17. Kidney Health 18. Treatment of Hypertension and Metabolic Diseases 19. Prevention of Obesity 20. Prevention of Parkinson’s Disease 21. Prevention of Rickets and Osteomalacia 22. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Prevention and Treatment 23. Treatment of Autoimmune Conditions 24. Treatment of Childhood Anemia 25. Prevention of Infections Is too much of the Sunshine Vitamin toxic? Too much of just about anything can be a problem but Vitamin D has been shown to be extremely safe, at levels up to 200 ng/ml so you don’t have anything to worry about unless perhaps you are literally downing Vitamin D tablets by the bottle daily. I take between 6,000 and 10,000 IU’s daily in the morning, depending on how much sunlight I plan on receiving that day and I’ve seen studies showing people taking 40,000-50,000 IU’s daily without any signs of toxicity. Ok mom, you win. This summer I’ll make extra efforts to write these blogposts on the beach, under the shining sun. We’ll leave sun protection for a later blogpost….