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Published May 25, 2012, 12:00 AM

Prairie Fare: Protect yourself from the sun this summer

Recently we packed away our winter hats, boots and scarves to prepare for summer. I decided we needed to pull out some floppy-brimmed hats, along with our gardening tools, mower, balls and bats.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

Recently we packed away our winter hats, boots and scarves to prepare for summer. I decided we needed to pull out some floppy-brimmed hats, along with our gardening tools, mower, balls and bats.

On the nutrition and health side, exposure to sunlight helps our body manufacture some vitamin D. However, according to some studies, we need only about 15 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen twice a week to make adequate vitamin D.

Adequate vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones, plus it may help protect us from heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, especially during our long winter months, when standing outdoors for 15 minutes is not very practical.

Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Some that do are salmon, tuna and eggs.

Fortified foods, such as milk, some types of orange juice, yogurt and cereal, also provide vitamin D. Read the food labels to learn more.

As we enjoy the warmth of the summer sun and stock up on vitamin D, we also need to take a few precautions. Try this true/false quiz:

1. True or false: You can get sunburned on a cloudy day.

2. True or false: Vehicle windows do not block the rays of the sun.

3. True or false: The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men more than the age of 50.

4. True or false: One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during his/her lifetime.

All these statements are true.

While everyone is at risk for skin cancer, some people are at a higher risk. If you use a tanning bed, you are at higher risk for skin cancer. Tanning beds are on the list of “known carcinogens,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Having a family history of skin cancer, lots of moles or freckles, fair skin, blue or green eyes and/or naturally blonde, red or light brown hair also puts you at a higher risk. If you do not use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30, you are at a higher risk for skin cancer.

Just one severe sunburn doubles your risk of developing skin cancer. That is why covering up in the sun is so important. Hats with 3-inch brims all the way around, long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must.

Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours. You also need to reapply your sunscreen after sweating, getting wet or towel drying.

Be sure to do regular self-skin exams and remember “ABCD.” Look for “asymmetrical” spots, “borders” that are irregular and a “color” that is uneven or that has changed. Look for moles or suspicious spots with a “diameter” larger than the size of a pencil eraser.

Be sun savvy. Protect yourself from skin cancer. Visit www.cancer.org for more sun-safe tips.

This recipe provides some vitamin D from the tuna. Complete your menu with a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk and your favorite fruit.


Tuna Salsa Wraps

1 (7-oz.) can tuna, drained and flaked

¼ cup light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

½ cup salsa

¼ cup shredded carrots

6 large corn or flour tortillas

1½ cups shredded lettuce

¾ cup mild shredded cheddar cheese

Warm the tortillas according to the instructions on the package. In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients in the order given. Mix well. Place tortilla on a cutting board or other surface. In the center of the tortilla, place an equal portion of shredded lettuce and tuna mixture.

Top with a pinch of cheese. Fold in one end and tightly roll the tortilla over the ingredients. Place in a baking pan and warm in a 350-degree oven until the cheese is slightly melted.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 362 calories, 41 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 14 g of fat, 2.5 g of fiber and 838 g of sodium.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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