A few minutes each day topping up our tan would be a very convenient way of lowering our high blood pressure. Nor would we have the side effects associated with prescription drugs. Is sunbathing more effective than drugs? The popular press’ reaction to the recent publication of research in this field would have us believe so, but is it fact or fiction?

What we are really talking about is Vitamin D deficiency, which, whilst being a far cry from sunbathing is not unrelated to it as our main source of Vitamin D is synthesized by our bodies from sunlight.

High blood pressure and lifestyle choices

When we think about our lifestyles and high blood pressure, we more often than not focus on the effects of our modern ‘Western” diet or as it is also called SAD – Standard American Diet, and our sedentary lifestyles.

Research recently published by academics from the University of South Australia has put the spotlight on how hypertension is affected by other lifestyle choices – keeping out of the sun and the use of UV blockers.

There was a time when having a suntan was considered healthy, but the rise in skin cancers, even in countries with a temperate climate, has changed that perception. There is now a general fear that sunbathing might cause skin cancer and the current advice is to use a strong sunscreen or UV blocker. This has contributed to a general deficiency in Vitamin D.

There are other aspects of our modern lifestyle that have had an effect on our production of Vitamin D. Most notably are our working arrangements.

We drive from home to work and spend the whole day inside. We then drive home again where we might spend a short time outside late in the day if the weather is fine, before spending the rest of the evening indoors. As a result, our bodies get insufficient sunlight to make enough Vitamin D.

The new research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency might be a contributing factor in the hypertension epidemic.

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