Riding back from the Catskills the other day I observed a homeless man walking along the highway dragging his cart of things. Since traffic was slow, I had time to notice that his face was reddish brown, his bare arms were deeply tanned and he sported a full shock of hair. Other than his clothes, he looked kind of good actually. He was probably in his late 40’s or early 50’s.
Years ago, I used to see a particular homeless man on the Upper West Side of Manhattan all the time. I would always wonder what in the name of all that is holy is keeping this man alive. He smoked, drank, ate from garbage cans and clearly took drugs of all sorts. Yet, he lived for years like this. As I recall, he too had a full head of thick hair, thick beard and tan skin.
In the summer in NYC near where my gym is, I often see a particular shirtless homeless man walking around on Broadway. He’s in such good shape that he’d win a trophy in an amateur body building contest if he entered. He too has a full head of hair.
What is it that keeps these people alive – and with heads of hair to die for? (O.K., so I’m a little obsessed with head hair.)
Today it dawned on me (mind the pun) – it’s the sun. Yes, good old vitamin D.
These homeless men are outside all the time. They probably get more quality sun time in a week than many of us do in a year. And I don’t have to tell you how important vitamin D is for your immune system and overall health. Just read through the link I provided above or this link to find out all about how important vitamin D is and how deficient most people are especially vegetarians since they eat little fat and oils.
Experts today suggest that our serum vitamin D levels in our blood should be at least 40 ng/ml. A few clients of mine who I suggested have their vitamin D levels checked due to frequent illnesses were below 20! That is not good.
Cod liver oil is a good source. So too is salmon and mackerel. Beef or calves liver, eggs, sardines are also decent sources. Cheese contains little if any D. Ready to eat cereals are fortified with D, but you don’t want to put that sort of garbage food in your temple just to get some.
Vegetarians and especially vegans should take a D3 supplement in olive oil. From what I have read, D3 is better absorbed than D2.
But everyone should get more sun – sans sunscreen of course. You don’t need to slather on sunscreen when in the sun unless you are walking through the Mohave dessert. Talk about an industry that has freaked people into putting on a coating of chemical goo just to go to the park for a few hours. The best sunscreeen I know of is called a tree.
Lack of sun could have been the reason the Bubonic plague and other plagues took such a toll on people. Think about the dress of the 14th century – take a look:
Nary a drop of skin was exposed. How did they absorb any vitamin D?
Do you know what your level of vitamin D is? You should. Here’s a nifty way to test it.
Now, go get your shorts and tank tops on and get thee to the park!