6 Reasons to Dance in the Sun

It turns out Mom was right when she told me to get my head out of my book and go outside to play in the sun. Most of us associate low Vitamin D levels with depression but there is so much more to the story.

When I found out my blood glucose levels were high, my Vitamin D levels were, at the same time ‘insufficient’. That got me curious and I began to do some research. It turns out there is indeed a link between low Vitamin D levels and Diabetes type 2: 61% of people with diabetes are deficient in Vitamin D:

Lack of vitamin D is related to impaired cells that produce insulin; activated vitamin D can naturally increase insulin production (possibly preventing diabetes).

~ Dina Aronson, MS, RD and Julieanne Hever, MS, RD, CPT, Demystifying D in Volume 32 of Vegetarian Voice.

That got my attention! But on doing further research I found out that Vitamin D does even more. Here are 6 more reasons why you might want to pay attention and ensure you have optimal blood levels of Vitamin D:

  1. With optimal levels of Vitamin D you’ll be gaining muscle and losing weight. Research has shown that the higher the blood levels of Vitamin D, the stronger the muscles you will have with less fat in the muscles.
  2. You will have stronger bones. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption, and bone mineralization (what we want) while preventing bone breakdown (which we don’t want!)
  3. It has a protective effect on  your heart. There is a link between low Vitamin D blood levels and calcium buildup in the arteries. With sufficient levels of Vitamin D, the uptake of cholesterol is inhibited.
  4. It helps protect against cancer. It seems that having sufficient levels of Vitamin D in your body stimulates your natural tumour-suppression genes which means cancer cells do not have the tools to grow and divide. Research shows an especially strong role in cancer prevention for breast, ovarian, lung lymphoma, bladder, renal cell and malignant melanoma with optimal blood levels of Vitamin D.
  5. It can control the symptoms of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoraisis, lupus and type 1 Diabetes.
  6. Optimal levels of Vitamin D activates your immune system. A study found that the immune systems’ killer cells — T Cells — rely on Vitamin D to become active. Low Vitamin D levels mean you are less effective in fighting infection.

Vitamin D receptor cells are found in every cell of your body and Vitamin D is created naturally when your skin is exposed to the sun. We can even ‘store up’ sun exposure in those receptor cells for a time. But when we stay indoors or go through prolonged grey days of winter as we often get in the North Pacific, many of us become deficient. Even in the summer, if we are too vigilant about covering our skin with clothing and sunblock, we can rob ourselves of the Vitamin D we need. Some studies estimate that almost half of the world’s population have lower than optimal levels of Vitamin D.

How much is enough?

“Normal” blood levels for vitamin day are between 25 – 135 nmol/L (nmol/L = nanomoles per liter) according to my local Lab. That is a pretty large range. To break that down:

Optimal – greater than 100 nmol/L
Insufficient – between 25-50 nmol/L
Deficient – below 25 nmol/L

Can you get too much Vitamin D? The evidence seems to suggest that it is unlikely, having said that, the best way to get Vitamin D is through being in the sun. For example if you expose your skin to the sun 2-3 times a week, your body produces 2000 – 4000 IU of Vitamin D, depending on the time of year, the time of day and your location.

Skin pigmentation also plays a role. Me, a fair skinned individual, might need only 3 minutes of direct sun exposure during 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. several times a week during the summer, while my husband who has a darker complexion would need a little more time to absorb his weekly dose. This explains why people with more pigment in their skins can be deficient.

We need the sun but of course we also need to avoid sun damage. I try to get my sun exposure either in the morning or early evening (and in the summer, before I cover up or put sunscreen on.) In the winter, I have to admit I get whatever I can get and I supplement with Vitamin D tablets. There are dietary sources of Vitamin D as well: in fish liver oil, fatty fish and dairy products, including eggs.

If you think you might need to supplement with Vitamin D I do recommend that you consult your doctor and request a test for 25(OH)D level to make sure you are getting the correct dosage and that your system is balanced.

For further reading, this article is quite informative. It is from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and this article is the result of my personal research and experience.

Tips for Being In Your Element

“I’m out of my element.” When was the last time you said or heard this expression? Have ever really considered what that means? In the study of Feng Shui, being out of your element could well indicate imbalance and disharmony in some or several aspects of your life (e.g., with your health, relationships or career).

So consider, are you in your Element? That is, are you aware of your strongest personality traits, and are you using them to be that healthy, wise, loving and caring version of you that is inside?

Throughout history, people from different cultures and traditions throughout the world believed the elements of nature had attributes that gave meaning and definition to their lives and could shape a person’s personality.

What cultures did not agree on, however, was the names and numbers of these all-important elements. In traditional feng shui, there are five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The system I use follows the Celtic and Native North American tradition of four elements: fire, water, earth and air. Scholars such as the Greek physician Hippocrates and psychologist Carl Jung both based their work on a system of four elements.

Jung’s system of psychological typing was based on the four elements and four directions, which he called the four functions. Jung associated:

  • East to the function of Intuition (Fire)
  • South to the function of Feeling (Water)
  • West to the function of Sensation (Earth)
  • North to the function of Thinking (Air)

This system is also closely related to the Sacred Circle or Medicine Wheel and is also used in reading Tarot cards.

Feathers and Drums

Feathers and Drums

Knowing which Elemental archetype you resonate with frees up energy to be glorious in your element, to say to yourself – and to the world, “Who I am is enough!” You do not have to be all things – you are only required to be true to yourself.

Read through these descriptions and see which element you immediately have an affinity with:

Element of Fire: You are a person of the Fire Element if you are influenced by intuition more than any other sense. You often feel instinctively whether something is ‘right’ for you. You also tend to sense things about people, situations and places.

Element of Water: You are person of the Water Element if you are governed more by your emotions than any other sense. You are naturally empathetic, have a strong desire for peace and serenity, and are a reserved and quiet sort of person.

Element of Earth: You are a person of the Earth Element if you respond to life through what you experience directly with your senses – especially sight, touch, and past experience. You are not a person to take another’s word for something, or to put much faith in intuition.

Element of Air: You are a person of the Air Element if you have a passion for Intellect. Your strength in logic and decision making often put you in leadership roles but Air Element people are often inwardly quite shy and reserved.

So, what element do you resonate with most strongly?

Is it Fire, Water, Earth or Air? Or, perhaps two elements call out to you equally? Once you’ve discovered your element, nurture those qualities in yourself by spending time with your element in nature.

  • Water Element types could spend an afternoon sitting by a lake.
  • Earth types could plant a garden.
  • Fire Elements could bathe by the light of the moon.
  • Air Element types could watch the clouds.

If you want to know more about your element type, check out my eCourse Healing with Feng Shui and Color.