As the summer heat peaks here in NYC along with the humidity and city musk, it’s tempting to stay indoors where the air conditioning runs full blast. That, along with the notion that “the sun is bad for you” — skin cancer, wrinkles, or just plain old Filipino dissent for dark skin, I have never prioritized getting direct sunlight in the past. Living in California, the sun was present for most of the year so I got my daily dose of Vitamin D one way or another. It wasn’t until after my diagnosis did I learn just how important getting regular sunlight was.
A few months into chemo and I got a call from my oncologist’s office saying my blood work came back showing very low levels of Vitamin D. It wasn’t anything to worry about at that point, but I was very quickly put on a clinical dose of Vitamin D3, which I was to take once a week for a month. This piqued my curiosity and so after a quick consultation with Dr. Google, I realized how many studies there are investigating the link between Vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer. Very simply, Vitamin D keeps our bones strong, is vital for our muscles and nerves, and helps our immune system ward off disease, potentially even cancer.
You can get Vitamin D through food like salmon, sardines and other oily fishes, and through the sun, which is the more efficient way. Our bodies produce Vitamin D and stores it in our skin in an inactive form. When the sun’s rays hit our skin, that transforms it to the active form. Thus, exposure to the sun is actually very beneficial, and may be a factor in helping prevent a myriad of diseases. Not to mention, it helps boost our mood and may play a factor in higher energy levels, controlled weight, and better quality sleep.
So aside from my weekly supplements, I have been taking advantage of the warm summer months and have built a daily dose of sunshine into my routine. I wake up, take the dogs for a walk, then catch at least 15 minutes of morning sun before I eat breakfast. I have noticed quite a difference in my mood, and am hoping my doctor also sees a difference in my next set of blood tests.
While I give no medical recommendations, I do encourage you to stop vilifying the sun, and take advantage of one of Mother Nature’s free medicines. Absorb it, bask in it, let it fall on your face and skin. Smile. ❤