Grant to help man promote sunshine

ST. GEORGE - Nutritionist and fitness expert Dr. Marc Sorenson's suggests the best way to staving off any of more than 100 diseases: "Get naked at noon."

He suggests it with a laugh, though he is certainly not kidding about the health benefits of vitamin D.

Sorenson says building 20 to 40 minutes of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the best medicine for many of life's ills.

"A generation has been lead to believe the best and safest time to sunbathe is before mid-morning or in the late afternoon, but at that time there is very little vitamin D production by sunlight," Sorenson says. "It takes two to four times longer at those times of day to make optimal quantities of vitamin D.

He says people can't rely on haphazard sunlight exposure of the face, hands and arms to provide enough exposure for immediate health benefits and future storage of vitamin D.

"The sun has been much maligned in past decades, but nearly every frightening thing you've heard about it is false," Sorenson says. "In fact, sunlight in moderation - avoiding burning at all costs - is not only good for the vast majority of human beings, it is essential to their overall health."

The Vitamin D Foundation of America and the Vitamin D Society of Canada support Sorenson's findings, and have pooled their resources to grant him $64,000 to promote vitamin D research. "There is so much new research it's hard to stay ahead of it all," Sorenson says.

A portion of the grant funding has been used to promote Sorenson's new 265-page book, "Vitamin D3 and Solar Power;" develop a Web site at www.vitaminDdoc.com; and to develop a blog at www.drsorenson.blogspot.com, on which he regularly posts news on Vitamin D research.

His blog also followed the media's interest in Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's purchase of a tanning booth for the Alaska governor's mansion.

When he is not involved in research and blogging, Sorenson's schedule in the past several months has included regular television appearances on talk shows and news broadcasts on the east coast, including New York, and in Canada, including Toronto and Edmonton.

Of course, anyone - no matter the skin tone - can be harmed by excessive or prolonged exposure to the sun or in unregulated tanning booths.

"Assess your skin type and work up slowly to maximum exposure," he says. "Those with freckled or very light skin which does not tan can still benefit but should avoid direct ultraviolet radiation by sitting in the shade on a sunny day. Those with multiple moles, and sensitivity to UV rays should be particularly careful, as should organ transplant recipients or those taking photo sensitive drugs."

Source: "By Linda Sappington from TheSpectrum" adapted from European Sunlight Association