A great many people in our era are suffering from chronic health conditions linked to nutrient deficiencies. One often hears of how we must procure enough calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone disease, antioxidants to prevent cancer, omega-3 fatty acids to fight depression, and the list goes on and on.
So, at our doctor’s behest, many of us dutifully file into our local “health food” store and buy supplements that contain these substances, often manufactured synthetically in laboratories, and ingest them in a never-ending quest to restore our health.
It seems these nutrients, once a seamless part of the natural cycle of life and the way we nourished our bodies, have become commodities in a huge multi-billion dollar industry—just one category in the endless stream of commodities we are told we must consume.
There is no better example of this than the recent history of vitamin D. This vital substance has historically come to us primarily by way of sunlight—and its deficiency has been linked to many serious health conditions, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, asthma and even cancer. But now, society has done its best to scare us away from the sun, so in order to prevent ourselves from becoming deficient in vitamin D, we must head to the health food store and purchase expensive capsules or other (often synthetic) forms of this vitamin.
At the same time, medical experts insist that we must faithfully apply (and reapply) sunscreen daily to protect ourselves from the dangers of the sun, including warding off the much-publicized specter of skin cancer. So, in order to “protect” ourselves from the “evil” of sunlight, we must spend yet more time and money buying and slathering on sunscreen (a commodity, again, typically made of synthetic chemicals) in order to prevent exposure to the sun.
However, recent evidence has shown that the largely untested chemicals found in many, if not most, sunscreens are themselves implicated in skin cancer and other health conditions—thus, applying sunscreen may in many cases actually be doing more to encourage skin cancer than to prevent it. And the net effect of all this toxic sunscreen slathering is that many of us are even more vitamin D deficient than we already were, thanks to an increasing isolation from the sun!
Putting this altogether: What kind of a strange farce is it that we are taught to avoid the effects of the sun by applying sunscreen (often made of chemicals now demonstrated to have a toxic effect), and then are told to take supplements to replace the nutrients lost by avoiding the sun? Spending money to purchase man-made chemicals on both sides of the equation? It is not difficult to imagine the ways that corporations are benefitting from this situation far more than people are, reaping in billions even as the populous gets sicker and sicker.
This example of vitamin D may seem relatively trivial, but it is just one example of the myriad ways in which our desire for basic health is being exploited by corporate powers through the manipulation of information and the commodification of nutrients and other aspects of nature that should be available to all. I am not suggesting that supplements don’t have their place (indeed, I have taken them at times to restore balance), nor am I suggesting that all sunscreen is evil. However, I do believe we need to mindfully examine our increasing dependency on these products, why we are being encouraged to take them rather than find them in natural sources (read: money), and whether or not they are truly playing a beneficial role in our lives as they keep us in the ever-turning hamster wheel of deprivation and consumption.
It has recently been revealed that most vitamin D supplements contain only a small fraction of the nutrients they claim. But even if vitamin D supplements worked as well to supply our body with this essential nutrient as natural sunlight does, much else is lost by the avoidance, or simple neglect of our need to spend time outside that is enforced in us due to the sedentary, indoor lifestyles demanded by today’s world.
Time spent in sunlight, in appropriate quality and quantity, not only allots us an ample and appropriate supply of vitamin D, but also sets our circadian rhythms (which allows us to feel energetic during the day and get proper sleep at night); boosts our immune systems; and new research shows that sunlight exposure even helps to prevent heart attacks, to name just a handful of benefits. Furthermore, it is my personal belief and experience that the risk of skin cancer is less due to sun exposure than it is to other factors such as the high inflammatory/processed food diet that is now standard in the West.
From my perspective as an energy practitioner, it isn’t so much about us “getting” enough vitamin D for healthy bones, or even enough sunlight to boost our immunities. These things simply can’t be, and shouldn’t be, commodified. Rather, it is about learning to return to a natural state of harmony with the sun, in which we allow this powerful force to nourish and sustain us, as we give our respect and understanding in return. We need to listen to our bodies as they tell us how much sunlight we need, being mindful not to overdo it, but also enjoying the inimitable feeling of the sun’s warmth on our backs as we acknowledge the many ways it strengthens our bodies, minds and spirits.
We are meant to be in the sun, and our two-way relationship with this life-giving being simply cannot be replaced by any set of supplements. Our collective vitamin D deficiency is a symptom of the deeper truth that we have fallen out of right relationship with this powerful force that has sustained us from the beginning, and without which we would cease to exist. Fortunately, this relationship can be restored by recognition of our vital, intrinsic interconnection with the natural world, and a simple decision to return to who we truly are. We are the children of the Earth, sun and other natural forces.
As it is with the sun, so it is with all of nature: We are not antioxidant-deficient so much as we have fallen out of right relationship with the plant world; we don’t lack calcium so much as we have lost our relationship to the mineral world—that most fundamental gift of our Earth. So many seemingly disparate health conditions are actually traceable to this single, incredibly powerful truth: Right relationship.
Thus, if we work to restore our right relationship with the natural world in all its facets, our healing will come along as a part of the whole. This healing will occur almost effortlessly as we resume our natural place as an interconnected part of creation. We need to shift our emphasis and focus away from the commodification and consumption of individual, chemical substances (sunscreen, synthetic vitamin D and a host of other supplements), and onto how we can heal our world as a whole, and ourselves along with it. All the manufacturing and consumption of supplements in the world will not restore our health, at least not at the root of the problem. In many cases it will likely only take us farther from ourselves, because it isn’t just a matter of what we consume, chemically speaking. It is also, and mostly, a question of how we engage in a graceful give-and-take with our world—the two-way right relationship that we must cultivate with our beautiful Earth, sun, and the entire life-giving cosmos. This shift in thinking—and being—marks a return to our true selves, and the gift of health comes along with it.
***This article is not intended as a substitute for the care of a qualified health practitioner. Enjoy late morning or afternoon sun (nude or wearing minimal clothing) for at least 20 minutes per day for optimal health. It is recommended to avoid long exposures, and to seek shelter or wear protective covering in full mid-day sun. Also please consider investigating the relationship of diet and inflammation to skin damage and other inflammatory disorders.***
Author: Sara Sophia Eisenman
Editor: Travis May
Image: Author’s Own