With one breath, we love the light, with the hope it may help with the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the warmth, as it comforts our muscles and joints. And, of course, we love vitamin D since this nutrient now provides a strong presence in immunity, bone, and brain health. It is even said to help with certain skin conditions as well. But, on the downside, the safety of the sun regarding heat stroke, dehydration, and skin cancer enable this love to become indifferent.
Vitamin D has earned the name “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in the skin in the amounts needed in response to sunlight. Sunlight is a practical and natural way to obtain vitamin D and optimism about obtaining vitamin D from the sun is valid in terms of health. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D unless fortified, and balancing supplementation can be difficult unless supervised by a healthcare practitioner. However, the pessimism has escalated in obtaining vitamin D from the sun, since the rise and risk of skin cancer have seemed to outweigh its simplicity and ecological benefits.
Both Ultraviolet Light A (UVA) and Ultraviolet Light B (UVB) are said to play a role in conditions that may affect skin health. The difference is UVA rays are considered aging rays that deeply penetrate the skin layers, and UVB rays are burning rays that affect the outer layer of skin causing sunburn and more associated with risks of skin cancer types such as basal, squamous, and melanoma.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Although not confirmed, these statistics may be attributed to an overabundance of sun exposure. In addition, there are other variables like, skin color, demographics, and the use of certain medications that may make your skin more sun sensitive.
Considering all these factors, the use of sunscreen is highly recommended by more and more dermatologists.
Like the naturalness of the sun, protection from it should be natural too. In general, oils like olive and coconut have a built-in Sun Protection Factor (SPF) due to their unique essential fatty acid content and thickness. Other natural protectants, like mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, can be added to increase the SPF, and are said to protect from both UVA and UVB rays.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests avoiding ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor that may cause skin allergies, and retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may be harmful to the skin. On the other hand, the use of mineral-only, water-resistant, cream-based products, with an SPF between 15-50 should be considered. Other alternatives are to avoid the sun at all costs, or cover up with hats, shirts, and sunglasses when going out in the sun.
Although blocking the sun’s harmful rays with natural sunscreen, cover-ups, and sun celibacy is encouraged, you will not be able to get vitamin D from the sun in the amounts needed. Because of this, the EWG furthermore recommends getting screened for vitamin D deficiency as insufficient levels may be a risk factor for certain diseases.
Vitamin D Supplementation
In general, vitamin D supplementation may be necessary for many Americans because of its already established health benefits and problems associated with deficiency. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily for people ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU for those over 71.
New studies are also revealing that vitamin D may be beneficial in reducing the risk of melanoma and other forms of cancers. So, in this case even more vitamin D may be needed. However, research also implies that overexposure to the sun may not be best for obtaining vitamin D and for overall skin health.
The sun is a very powerful energy source on this earth. Rather than deem it unhealthy, we should respect its strengths, but take precautions. Like everything, balance is key to wellness.
Understanding the pros and cons of sun exposure and the use of sunscreen may truly help you relax this summer and enjoy the sun!
Stop by Millers Pharmacy a Daywel Company to speak with our Nutritionist or Pharmacist about natural solutions for your skin and overall health.
This information is for educational purposes only. Millers Pharmacy a Daywel Company does not claim to cure any cause, condition, or disease. Please check with your health care practitioner, especially if you have a medical condition, before starting or making changes to any diet, exercise, or lifestyle program.