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Sunshine’s In Again – Or Is It?

     After decades of hiding from the dangers of natural sunshine, afraid to come out of my cave without a slathering of sunscreen, a floppy-brimmed hat and sleeves dangling over the tips of my fingers, I came upon an article in the June 2004 edition of the old people’s bulletin – a.k.a. AARP Bulletin – that said, more or less: What do you know? Sunshine is good for humans!  Because…

     Not only does sunshine provide Vitamin D, it also elevates serotonin levels. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium – thus good for our bones – and strengthens our resistance to heart disease, arthritis and several cancers. Serotonin is that chemical that makes us happy and alert.

     Being a lover of sunshine, I ran to my computer and wrote the following column:

     Hey! How about that? Sunshine’s in! Just in time for summer!

     Years ago, when sunshine was declared dangerous to the human race, I got really worried. I was afraid I was going to have to start dipping my french fries and tortilla chips in Cod Liver Oil.

     Cod Liver Oil?  Well, you prob’ly didn’t grow up in Maine, or some other northern state, in the twentieth century, so maybe you never met up with Cod Liver Oil. Lucky you.

     As you know, Maine only has three days of summer, except in Leap Year, when it has three and a half, so everyone had to compensate for the lack of sunshine (which was considered a good thing back then) by taking a heaping tablespoonful of Cod Liver Oil.

     A tablespoonful of Cod Liver Oil, when it hits the roof of your mouth, is somewhat like a shot of whiskey mixed with milk of magnesia topped with whipped cream and a cherry but someone forgot the whipped cream and cherry.

     I don’t recall ever seeing anyone’s parents taking Cod Liver Oil, but we kids had to open wide every day, from mid-August to mid-April. Our parents told us Cod Liver Oil was full of essential Vitamin D, which we would’ve gotten plenty of, had we been born in the Bahamas or Southern California. But we weren’t.

     So when the scientists announced that sunshine is bad and that we should hide behind sunscreen and protective gear and always walk under the trees, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was that God forgot to apply that last layer of sunscreen on our skin when He put us together. I also wondered why we didn’t need Vitamin D any more.

     When I saw the AARP headline, “Catching a few rays can be good for you…” I let out a yelp, grabbed a chocolate bar and settled down to enjoy a good read.

     And a good read it was. Turns out, exposure to sunshine is good for humans. In fact, we need it. The recommended dose is twenty minutes, several days of the week. That way, you get your Vitamin D injected directly through your skin – no needles! And your serotonin level rises and makes you more cheerful. (Your family will like that.)

     All’s right with the world. Sunshine is in.

     That was the column I typed so happily on my computer. Last night, as I settled in for sweet dreams of sunshiny days, I turned on the television to catch the latest news.   The announcer smiled and began with the headline story:

     “The American Melanoma Association announces their finding that sunlight is more dangerous to your skin than previously reported, and must be avoided at all cost. It has been found to cause damage far below the surface of the skin, where human eye cannot see.” The camera turned to focus on a huge machine finding cell damages under the announcer’s skin that even his wife didn’t know he had.

     Darn! What’s a gal to do?

     I’m going to go outside and think about it – for about twenty minutes.

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