FIrst published in Stella issue 1, August 2012
Words Yasmin Donigi
Black is beautiful. Shout it from the rooftops … literally, get up there!
When it comes to black pride and loving our chocolate/latte/caramel-coloured skin we are now told that the upkeep of our complexions is a vital matter of health. Our virtual world-wide-web lives are to be illuminated with the non-fluorescent light emitted by ‘outdoors-light-force’ – SUNSHINE. We shall henceforth schedule in sun gazing, sun-eating (yes a real thing!), and sun-basking.
Sunlight and therefore vitamin D is accepted as having a long history of treating and curing tuberculosis. It is known to reduce high blood pressure, passionately advocated to prevent all cancers, and a simple preventative measure for the flu. In fact, sufficient vitamin D levels is advocated as essential to preventing diseases in general, including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart attacks, and even bone fractures.
The Vitamin D council and the Cancer Council of Australia emphasise the role that vitamin D has in maintaining bone and muscle strength, and enhancing the immune system. The Vitamin D Council also promotes the view that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women may lead to fetal vitamin D deficiency and autism.
For years we have been educated into the ‘slip, slop, slap’ approach for sun safety. Unfortunately, besides concerns for what cancer-causing chemicals are actually in sunscreens (a topic of another discussion), we had forgotten to factor in the natural element of being diurnal (opposite of nocturnal) creatures (well, most of us). And as one thought leads to another, this must entail that however we came to be here in our present form (with our built-in sunscreen, melanin) that we must therefore have some affinity for sunlight.
Studies on vitamin D deficiency in North America show that the African American population is suffering endemic levels. And Dr. Oz, a reputable physician with his own medical television show, goes so far as to make direct correlations between obesity and poor levels of vitamin D.
Dr. Oz recommends a daily dosage of 10-15 minutes in the midday sun for fair-skinned people and an hour for dark-skinned people. Conversely, many of us spend much of the day working indoors, travelling in cars with tinted windows, and moving between buildings with small amounts of time spent outdoors in the bustling heat of the streetscape.
So next time you find yourself habitually lurking in the shadows, do yourself a favour: throw yourself into the sunlight as though you were unabashedly devoting yourself to lyrical intent at your PNG’s Got Talent audition, accepting your skin-deep natural beauty.
Sources of vitamin D can be found in supplements such as cod liver oil, however, the best, unrivalled source of vitamin D is sunlight. Having your vitamin D levels checked is a simple procedure of a blood test that can be requested through your physician.