Your body makes vitamin D when you are exposed to ultra-violet B rays in sunlight. You need five to thirty minutes of exposure somewhere on your skin (face, back, arms, or legs) without sunscreen, two times a week. Ten minutes’ worth of sun on the skin without sunscreen will provide 10,000 units of vitamin D, a vitamin which charges our immune systems against the horrible cancers we never want, and many other diseases. Vitamin D may help prevent high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer. Vitamin D is also famously necessary for our bodies to absorb and utilize calcium. Ten minutes of sun, twice a week without sunscreen, will not burn you, or give you cancer.
There is growing controversy surrounding calcium, and taking too much; it is closely related to the levels of life-saving vitamin D in our bodies. Dr. Frank Shallenberger, head of the Nevada Center of Alternative and Anti-Aging Medicine in Carson City, is very concerned about the indiscriminate overuse of calcium supplementation. Dr. Shallenberger, who is licensed in both conventional and alternative medicine, writes, in his book, Bursting With Energy, that taking too much calcium puts excess calcium in the wrong places in our bodies: Our arteries, for example. There may be a direct correlation between arterial obstruction, calcified blood vessels, decreased circulation, and plaque. The other problem, he writes, is that if you take too much calcium, you can suppress vitamin D production, which is critical to our immune system. This could lead to a serious immune deficiency. He cites a paper published in Cancer Research by the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, which described a study’s finding that the immune deficiency caused by too-high calcium increased the incidence of prostate cancer. The interesting thing surrounding Americans’ overdoing calcium is that calcium deficiency is virtually non-existent in America.
Dr. Shallenberger’s explanation about our bodies’ own regulation system is fascinating. Calcium is unique in this self-regulation system, as far as minerals are concerned. It turns out that our bodies compensate for lower levels of calcium in our diets through vitamin D, which increases calcium absorption from the intestines, and decreases calcium loss from our kidneys. It works great! Even in people who have very low levels of dietary calcium, a normal balance is maintained in their bodies. Calcium, it turns out, is the most abundant mineral in the human body, and even pregnant and lactating mothers do well on 150-200 mg. of calcium per day.
According to Dr. Shallenberger, osteoporosis is caused by excessive calcium loss, not by an insufficient intake of calcium. Studies have resoundingly shown that osteoporosis can be prevented and treated by diet, exercise—especially weight training, vigorous walking and running—adequate exposure to sunlight, and hormone replacement. (Dr. Shallenberger’s Nevada Center was an early proponent of bio-identical hormone replacement in the west.)
This is great news. Tiny amounts of sun help your body fight disease, and you don’t need to spend so much money on calcium. Your body works hard to keep you healthy, and there are very simple things you can do to help your magnificent body do its job. Happiness, strong bones, and good health to all!