Category Archives: Chronic Illness

breath

Breath Test to Detect Stomach & Oesophageal Cancers

breath

There is a test that now measures the levels of 5 chemicals in the breath that has shown promising results for detecting cancers of the oesophagus and stomach in a large patient trial that has been presented at the European Cancer Congress 2017.  

Stomach and oesophageal cancer together, currently account for around 1.4 million new cancer diagnoses each year worldwide.  Both of these cancers are usually diagnosed late because their symptoms are ambiguous, or meaning that the five-year survival rate for these types is only 15%.  

New research of more than 300 patients has shown that the test could diagnose cancer with an overall accuracy of 85%.  An NIHR Clinical Trials Fellow from Imperial College London, Dr. Sheraz, under the supervision of Professor George Hanna, informed Congress that at present the only way to diagnose oesophageal and stomach cancers is with endoscopy, which is expensive, invasive and has some risk of complications with this method.

A non-invasive and first-line breath test could be used to reduce the number of unnecessary endoscopies.  This could also mean in the longer term that earlier diagnosis and treatment as well as better survival could be realized.

They based this trial on the results of previous research that suggested differences in the levels of specific chemicals as butyric, pentanoic and hexanoic acids, butanal and decanal between patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer and patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms without cancer.  This research was targeted to test whether this chemical signature that seemed to typify cancer could be the basis of a diagnostic test.

The research team collected breath samples from 335 people at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, University College London Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.  Around 163 had been diagnosed with stomach or oesophageal cancer and 172 showed no evidence of cancer when they had an endoscopy.

The samples were analyzed with a technique called selected ion flow-tube mass spectrometry that is able to accurately measure small amounts of different chemicals in mixtures of gases such as breath.  They then measured the levels of the 5 chemicals in each sample to see which ones matched to the chemical signature that indicated cancer. The test was 85% accurate overall with a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 81%.  Not only was the breath test good at recognizing those who had cancer (sensitivity), but was also good at correctly identifying those who did not have cancer.

Since the cancer cells are different than healthy ones, they produce a different mixture of chemicals.  This then suggests that we may be able detect these differences and use a breath test to indicate which patients are likely to have cancer of the oesophagus and stomach, and which do not.  Validation of these findings is needed in a larger sample of patients before the test could be used in the clinic.

Researchers will continue with a larger trial using the test with patients given an endoscopy for gastrointestinal symptoms but not yet diagnosed with cancer, over the next 3 years.  This will assess the ability of the test to pick up cases within a group that is likely to contain only a small percentage of cancers.

Breath tests for other types of cancer, such as colorectal and pancreatic is also being worked on by the team, which could be used as first-line tests in general practice surgeries.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Choosing Complementary Medicine For Cancer

Choosing the complementary medicine best suited for your type of cancer can be a daunting and overwhelming decision. My opinion is a true integrative program of science based protocols that are done outside of the United States. However, many people are unable to travel outside of the US. There is some helpful information on integrative treatments that have the best evidence behind them or are the most widely used. This is not a replacement for traditional medical care but to be used alongside your chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Talk with your doctor about any of the therapies you are thinking of trying. Some natural therapies can have side effects and interactions just like the conventional treatments.

Some treatments are:

·  Acupuncture & Acupressure to relieve pain and other symptoms. This can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy and reduce cancer pain. Adverse effects are rare. If you are prone to bleeding, make sure acupuncture is safe for you.

· Biofeedback is instruction in how to control some of your body’s automatic responses like heart rate and using monitors. This can reduce stress, chronic pain and insomnia. There are no risks involved.

· Chiropractic Care is a manipulation of the joints and skeletal system. There is evidence it reduces back pain and headaches and is relatively safe. It can occasionally cause injury and those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check first with their doctor.

· Fitness includes classes designed for those in cancer treatment or recovering from it. Hypnosis can reduce stress, improve mood, reduce cancer pain and reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. There are no risks

· Massage is kneading and rubbing of muscles and soft tissues that can reduce stress and anxiety and possibly cancer pain. Risks are low but those prone to bleeding, have weak bones, nerve damage or other health issues should check with their doctor.

· Meditation & guided imagery will help you to calm yourself using breathing exercises, repeating a word or imagining yourself in relaxing places. It can reduce pain, stress and anxiety. Imagery may reduce the side effects from chemotherapy and there are no risks.

· Nutritional counseling is guidance on eating a healthy diet that can make you feel better and maintain relaxation while easing pain. There are low risks but avoid extreme diets that restrict food groups.

· Reiki, Tai Chi and energy therapies realign energy in your body using movement or pressure that reduces stress and improves quality of life. Typically a low risk except for those with health conditions like arthritis and heart disease.

· Supplements and alternative medicines is the use of vitamins and alternative medicines extracted from plants. Some may ease symptoms from cancer and its treatment and others for their effect on cancer. Risks in this category greatly vary depending on the drug. Never take a supplement, herb or botanical without your doctor’s approval as some can be dangerous and cause drug interactions.

Hopefully, the above listing will help your decision making go a bit easier. If in doubt you should always consult with your physician. You can always Google the alternative methods to learn more about them.

Dr Fredda Branyon

people_standing

Standing for Our Health

people_standing

The average U.S. adult spends up to 10 hours a day sitting.  This is a habit viewed as a normal integral part of daily life with working at a desk job or commuting long hours.  We aren’t doing our bodies any favors by sitting so much as it contributes to rising rates of overweight and obesity, chronic disease and even sometimes premature death.

Kelly Starrett holds a Ph.D. in physical therapy and is the author of “Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World.”  He is a leader in the CrossFit movement and stresses the importance of having proper body mechanics both in and outside the gym.  He addresses biomechanical inadequacies that might increase your risk of injury. Kelly and Juliet are a husband-and-wife team and experts on movement and how it can make or break your health.  Their venture, StandUpKids.org is the product of their own role as parents to improve the health of kids across the U.S. This venture began when they volunteered at their daughters’ school and were disturbed to see the kids were having a hard time with the sack race at field day.  

They believe that sitting too much at a desk all day leads to decreased functionality and affects a child’s cognition.  The children attempting the sack race had decreased functionality as a result of this excessive sitting. Since the beginning of their non-profit organization, they have given about 35,000 U.S. school kids access to standing desks in the classroom.  This change is not only physical in nature but is linked to better learning in the classroom and improved productivity at work. The muscle activity acts as a stimulus to keep the brain alert.

It’s all about moving more and listening to what your body is saying.  Giving up that chair seems overwhelming to think about, but it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.  Think of other ways to move more and include sitting on the floor can have moving advantages over sitting in a more confined chair.  Standing up does take you out of sedentary mode and you will likely stretch, lean, bend and pace. All movement counts toward your daily activity.

After sitting for six, eight or 10 hours a day it may take some time to adjust to standing and moving more and won’t happen over night.  The average student in the U.S. spends 4.5 hours a day sitting at school and an additional 7 hours sitting in front of a screen. Therefore, 85% of their waking hours is spent sitting.

Standup Kids has partnered with a number of corporations, giving children the much-needed opportunity to move more in school by installing standing desks, complete with fidget bars. The University of California Berkeley and the local county public health department have partnered to try to get more research done. There has been concern about “forcing” kids to stand all day, but this isn’t about standing still for long hours.  They do have access to stools, should they want to use them, but the teachers are saying they rarely do.

Interventions can help you avoid chronic diseases and orthopedic problems as neck problems, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee problems, lower extremity problems, shoulder dysfunction, poor diaphragm function, low back pain, hernias, pelvic floor dysfunction and hip dysfunction.  Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? They do to me! With age comes most of the above.

Standing is not only good for children as a prevention method against poor health, but as adults we could learn a lot about standing to help our own bodies as well.  Many suffer from sitting-induced range-of-motion problems and might increase the risk of injury and compromise long-term athletic and movement abilities.

Dr Fredda Branyon

What Is Triggering Your Eczema?


Eczema is a skin condition that causes itchy, red, and swollen patches of skin. The most common type of eczema is called atopic dermatitis, “atopic” meaning an allergy that is usually hereditary, and “dermatitis” meaning the inflammation of the skin.

Stress

Flaring? Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Anxiety and stress can worsen skin conditions like eczema since the body’s stress hormones cause inflammation that irritates the skin.

Exercise and Sweat

Working out is fantastic for the body and can ease stress. But excessive sweating can aggravate the skin. To keep cool, take breaks during workouts and remember to drink plenty of water. Try exercising indoors or during cooler parts of the day. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for those with eczema, but be sure to shower and moisturize afterward since chlorine can be irritating.

The Sun and Humidity
Many people with eczema experience itchy or prickly heat sensations when they’re exposed to hot temperatures. If so, stay cool and seek shade. Sunburns inflame the skin and can lead to an eczema flare, so always remember to apply sunscreen before heading out in the sun.

Hot Water

Bathe with lukewarm or cool water since taking hot baths can intensify eczema flare-ups. When you’re done, gently pat your skin until it’s just damp. Then, slather on lotion to lock in moisture since dry skin can also heighten eczema.

Food Sensitivities

Some food triggers eczema, especially for babies and children. Milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, and fish are the most common culprits. Talk to a pediatrician or dermatologist since they can conduct tests that will determine your child’s food sensitivities.

Allergens

There are elements in our day-to-day lives that that can cause allergic reactions and trigger eczema flare-ups. Some of the most common allergens include dust mites, animal fur, seasonal pollen, mold, and dandruff. At home, it’s important to dust, vacuum, and wash bed sheets as regularly as possible to minimize your triggers. If you have allergy woes, it’s also best to consult your doctor about ways to get relief.

Irritants

Everyday products and natural substances can often cause the skin to burn, itch or become flaky and red. These could easily be products that you use on your body or are exposed to on a frequent basis. Soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents, and disinfectants can irritate the skin. When you wash your body or clothes, always think gentle. Choose laundry detergents made for babies or sensitive skin. For showers, pick a cleanser that is mild and fragrance-free. Shampoos are also available in organic, fragrance-free versions.

A Manageable Skin Condition

The key to staying healthy while living with eczema is to keep your symptoms under control. Identifying and avoiding eczema triggers, recognizing stressful situations, being mindful of scratching, and maintaining a regular skin care routine should help calm your symptoms. If not, always consult your dermatologist since prescription medications and alternative therapies can also help manage severe eczema.

Foods that Fight Chronic Inflammation

Img c/o pixabay

Img c/o pixabay

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease has conducted a study that identifies foodstuffs that can help prevent chronic inflammation that contributes to many leading causes of death. When inflammation in the body goes wrong or on for too long, it can trigger disease processes. If uncontrolled, inflammation plays a role in many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Protect against age-related inflammation and chronic diseases by eating fruits and vegetables that contain polyphenols.

Our diet has polyphenols, abundant micronutrients, which have shown their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The effects depend upon the amount consumed and on their bioavailability.

A type of white blood cells that circulate around our bodies are called T-cells or T-lymphocytes. These cells scan for cellular abnormalities and infection and contribute to cell signaling molecules (cytokines) that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. Fruit and vegetable intake modulates Cytokines.

Sian Richardson and Dr. Chris Ford from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic disease conducted a study examining the different potencies of the polyphenols. Their study results suggest that polyphenols derived from onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea and acai berries may help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators in people at risk of chronic inflammation.

The researchers say that older people are more susceptible to chronic inflammation and as such, they may benefit from supplementing their diets with isorhamnetin, resveratrol, curcumin and vanillic acid, or food sources that yield these bioactive molecules.

Being able to use those fruits and vegetables containing plyphenols, to help prevent chronic inflammation, might save lives and be worth looking into other research on the subject. Perhaps this would be an alternative to taking so many antibiotics if the inflammation can be cut off at the pass. Let’s protect our health and study ways to enrich our lives.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Your Cognitive Health

Img c/o pixabay

Img c/o pixabay

In order to protect your cognitive health or even improve your memory and brain function, exercise should come first. I know, if you are like me, exercise is not really my favorite thing to do but evidence shows exercise improves memory and cognition and helps stave off dementia. That might be worth walking around the block a couple of times. A 2010 study on primates revealed regular exercise did help monkeys learn new tasks twice as fast as those not exercising.

Slow The Brain Aging By As Much As 10 Years

Working your leg muscles has been shown to have a particularly strong impact on brain function and memory. A recent study, as published in the journal, Neurology, physical activity can slow the brain aging by as much as 10 years. Nearly 900 seniors participated in a study where 90% engaged in light exercise or none at all. The remaining 10% did medium-to-high intensity exercise. Older adults who reported light or not exercise experienced a cognitive decline equal to 10 more years of aging than those who were moderate to intense exercisers. Author Dr. Clinton B. Wright stated that their study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective as well as helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer.

Help The Brain’s Memory Center

Exercise promotes brain health by releasing hormones like brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) from the muscles and encourages the growth of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis or neuroplasticity. The brain’s memory center (hippocampus) is adaptable and capable of growing new cells through your entire lifetime and even into your 90’s. In a study, exercising mice grew an average of 6,000 new brain cells in every cubic millimeter of hippocampal tissue sampled. A year-long study found that adults who exercised regularly enlarged their brain’s memory center by 1 to 2 percent per year where typically the hippocampus tends to shrink with age.

Exercise Helps The Brain Function

Exercise helps protect brain function by:

  • Improving and increasing blood flow to your brain
  • reducing damage plaques in your brain
  • increasing production of nerve-protecting compounds
  • lowering levels of inflammatory cytokines associated with chronic inflammation and obesity preventing brain shrinkage by preserving both gray and white matter in your frontal temporal and parietal cortexes
  • stimulating production of a protein called FNDC5, which triggers the production of BDNF and reducing impact of bone-morphogenetic protein (BMP).

Psychological health and good mood are also promoted by exercise. Exercise is also known to dispel depression. Exercise promotes mental health by normalizing insulin resistance and boosting natural “feel good” endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and GABA. It has been tested out that well-trained muscles have higher levels of an enzyme that helps metabolize a stress chemical called dynurenine.

Exercising your muscles actually helps rid your body of stress chemicals that promote depression. The muscles purge your body of harmful substances.

Researchers have found that women who sat for more than 7 hours a day were found to have a 47% higher risk of depression than those who sat for 4 hours or less per day. Those not participating in any physical activity had a 99% higher risk of developing depression that those who exercised. A brisk walk can increase creativity up to 60%.

Let’s make a pact to get out there for a daily walk. If outdoors is too hot, go to the mall and join the dozens of people walking the halls for healthy exercise. Just don’t be taken in by the store sales, ok?

Dr Fredda Branyon

Get Your Anger under Control

Get Your Anger under Control
Img c/o  Pixabay

Img c/o Pixabay

We get angry and it is only normal. But if you get mad for simple or wrong reasons or if you flare up every minute or every day, something is wrong with you. You are wasting your emotions, you are hurting the people around you, and you are making your world smaller each day. You are also allowing yourself to live a troubled life. It’s time to get your anger under control. Here are useful ways how:

1. Know what triggers your anger.

What makes you angry? Is it waiting for your turn in a long queue in grocery stores? Is it when people cannot follow your instructions? To be able to manage your ire, it is important that you are aware where it is coming from so you can either avoid being in the situation or make yourself prepared. For instance, you can choose to buy grocery items during off-peak hours to stay away from long queues. You can also ask another family member to do it for you.

2. Teach yourself how to cool down.

Soon as you feel that you an inch closer to flaring up, perform some techniques so you can easily chill. These include performing deep breathing, counting from 1 to 10 (repeat your count until you are calm), doing some simple stretches, and massaging your neck and scalp.

3. Seek professional help.

If your anger has become chronic, it is important that you consult with a medical expert so he can offer you therapy. He does not only help you identify the causes of your fury. He also teaches you how to manage it.

4. Find and join community support groups.

Interacting with people who have the same condition as yours can help you picture your true situation, particularly if you are still in denial. Hearing their ordeals and discovering their coping skills can contribute a lot in your improvement. However, there are some cases (such as anger caused by domestic violence) when this is not an appropriate method.

5. Recognize the symptoms.

Some individuals are not able to stop their rage all because they are not aware of the signs that they are set to burst. These symptoms include jaw clenching, tensed muscles, Goosebumps, dizziness, and shaking.

6. Sometimes, it just helps to get away.

No matter how you want to say something to defend yourself or to raise your point, you may still come in a situation when the only solution is to walk away from the scene. It may truly hurt your pride but if this is the only way to stop your outburst, why not? You can just forget about what happen or you can clear things up later when you are already in your good state of mind.

Another way to stop your wrath is to not open your mouth. Close your eyes and tell yourself to loosen up. Keep still and think. Ask yourself: “Is the situation worthy or necessitate anger?” “Will I hurt someone if I say what I want to say?” “What will be the consequences if I do not overcome this ire?” Really, you have to think forward so you can avoid getting yourself in much trouble.

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What to Avoid When You Have Allergic Rhinitis

What to Avoid When You Have Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is the swelling or soreness of the nasal membranes. Symptoms include sneezing, postnatal drip, headache, earache, red eyes, itching (eyes, nose, palate, and ears), drowsiness, and others. To manage these, you can do some home treatments or take over-the-counter medications or as prescribed by your doctor. There are also cases when taking allergy shots is necessary. Your doctor may inject small dosages of allergens under your skin. This will aid your body in become accustomed to allergens to experience less severe or fewer symptoms.

Allergic rhinitis, however, can lead to complications. You may suffer from acute sinusitis, apnea or sleep disturbance, otitis media, palatal abnormalities, overbite due to extreme breathing through the mouth, and others. To avoid these, you can do some ways to avoid allergic rhinitis attacks.

1. Give your pet a specific place in your home in case you are allergic to dogs, cats, birds, and other warm-blooded animals. Do not go near it. Do not even bring your pet to your bedroom. If the effects of your allergic rhinitis are severe, you should consider giving it to a friend whom you know will take care of it.

2. Do not just buy pillows and comforters. You have to check what they are made of before making a purchase. Those that are made of feathers and foam rubbers should not be used for a longer period of time (say five years) as they will definitely trigger your allergies.

3. Make your home allergy-proof. Always dust furniture and carpet, and sweep and mop the floor. See to it that windows are closed tightly to prevent dust from getting inside your home, particularly your bedroom. Clean your bedding, carpets, curtains, air conditioner and others regularly. It is always best to use vacuum cleaner than broom and other similar cleaning materials because they even make the dust circulate in your home.

4. Either you do not keep books, decorative items and stuffed toys in your home or you dust them off on a regular basis. It is also important to run an air purifier inside your home.

5. You should sleep with your head raised to avoid experiencing nasal congestion at night. Likewise, stay hydrated. Drink eight glasses of water every day to slacken the excretions in your throat and nose. You should also exercise regularly.

6. As much as possible, stay inside while it is still morning because pollen counts are at their peak during this time. Likewise, do not stay outside when the grasses, trees, and weeds are budding.

7. Use an air conditioner to minimize humidity inside the home, as well as to avoid the growth of mildew and mold. Buy the one that has HEPA filters to capture allergens. Clean these filters on a regular basis.

It is easier to do these tips than to deal with allergic rhinitis attacks. Hence, you need to consider following these and others as advised by your doctor than to suffer from illness.

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Tips to Improve Your Focus

Tips to Improve Your Focus
Focus

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Distractions are everywhere. No matter how hard you try, you tend to entertain everything that is happening around you. It then becomes difficult for you to concentrate—but you can do some things to increase your focus if you want to.

Control your mind.
You get distracted because you absorb everything that you see and hear in your surroundings. It may be difficult for you to control your thoughts but you have to exert an effort to do so or else you will accomplish nothing. The trick here is, soon as disturbing thoughts enter your mind, immediately drop them and keep your focus on your work.

Schedule your time.
Having a calendar of daily activities can motivate you to set your eyes on your tasks—one at a time. However, never forget to give yourself a break to prevent boredom and fatigue. More important, learn to prioritize.

Do not multi-task (as much as possible).
Multi-tasking is fine; it can help you accomplish a lot of chores for the entire day. However, this is not good for you if you are having problems with your concentration. It is essential that you learn to set your attention on one task before moving on to another.

Make your area conducive to working.
Some people prefer to listen to music to be able to concentrate on their work. Some, however, choose to have a quiet environment. Know which league you belong to. If you are not expecting any call or text, it is also best not to have your mobile phone visible in your desk. It can distract you even if it is not ringing because subconsciously, you are expecting it to ring. Likewise, do not open your social media accounts while attending to your work. It can highly divide your attention and you are at risk of committing errors.

Increase your physical activities.
Work on some exercises so you will have enough energy to accomplish all your tasks. Ask a gym expert or research over the Internet for workout routines that specifically help in improving one’s focus. It is also important to ensure a balanced diet.

Avoid procrastination.
Do what you can do today; never procrastinate. Motivating yourself to finishing all your activities may lead to your 100% concentration.

Perseverance is your key to become successful in improving your concentration. Never entertain any negative thought. Tell yourself that you can do it. More important, keep yourself away from distractions.

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Winter Health Conditions to Look Out for This Season

Winter Health Conditions to Look Out for This Season
Keep an eye out for these winter health conditions that befall so many unknowing individuals. Learn what to do to prevent getting sick before the year ends.
img c/o pixabay

img c/o pixabay

While most people welcome the winter season with open hearts, there are an unfortunate few who develop certain conditions during this cold period. Here are some of the most common illnesses that people experience during the last quarter of the year.

Heart Problems

If you think heart attacks are mainly caused by exerting too much force when shoveling snow, think again. When winter comes, heart attacks rise by 53 percent compared to the number that we get in summer and this applies to states across the nation, even those that have not experienced snowfall or seen snowflakes around their town or neighborhood.

Cardiovascular problems are at an all time high during this season not because of the heavy snowfall, but because of the temperature drop. The arteries’ way of responding to the cold weather is by constricting themselves, making people vulnerable to heart attacks, especially those with a history of heart problems.

Narrower arteries causes the blood flow to be cut down, which makes the heart work twice as hard as normal just to get more blood to various parts of the body. They cause the arterial walls to be torn or split, causing blood clots that trigger strokes or heart attacks.

This phenomenon becomes more difficult as people age, especially when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower. It’s harder for older people to regulate their body temperature since they usually have less body mass and less fat, which means more difficulty in generating body heat.

This is also why men and women around 70 years of age and above get colder quickly than those in their 50s and 60s.

Winter Depression

If you’re starting to feel a bit down and lonely lately, then you might be experiencing SAD, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder, which is a specific type of depression that occurs every season, but the most common is during winter and fall. People who are diagnosed with SAD typically experience energy loss, anxiety, social withdrawal, oversleeping, along with other symptoms.

Treatment for this particular disorder is primarily increased exposure to sunlight and engaging in more physical activities.

Vitamin D deficiency

Another condition that is related to not getting enough sunlight is Vitamin D deficiency, which is popularly known as the sunshine vitamin. This is probably because we experience shorter sun exposure during winter’s gray days. Vitamin D is primarily obtained from the sun and passes through the skin. If you have dangerously low levels of vitamin D, your chances of developing heart problems, osteoporosis, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease becomes higher.

You can get back what you’re lacking by just stepping outside and letting your body absorb as much sunlight as it can for 15 minutes everyday. There are regions though that literally do not have sunlight for months, so if you happen to live in those areas, then vitamin D supplements should serve as an alternative.

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