Vitamin D sun exposure and sunscreen


Vitamin D is the latest thing that doctors seem to be banging on about. Vitamin D is crucial and is responsible for many functions – like supporting cardiovascular health, kidney health,  immune system health as well as strengthening bones and enhancing muscle strength (to name a few).

Our food today is fortified with many vitamins and minerals (usually because today’s foods are so deficient of any vitamins and minerals). Without getting off the track too much they are usually fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals – which is debatable whether your body can absorb or utilise these properly. Vitamin D is added to milk, bread and other processed foods – but chances are you are not getting enough of it.

For 20 years plus we have been told to avoid the sun – slip slop and slap. We are pretty much scared to get out in the sun for fear of skin cancer. Many of the articles and research on this area come from the northern hemisphere – not Australia.  The problem in Australia is the lack of ozone layer. The burn time in Australia is around 8 – 10 minutes where in countries where they have an ozone layer the burn factor is about 15 – 30 minutes.  So in Australia we do need to be more careful of over exposure of the sun.  But is slopping on sun screen the answer?

The problem with sunscreen is the fact that they are packed full of toxic dangerous chemicals –. Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octocrylene, Avobenzone, Homosalate and Oxybenzone – many of these disrupt hormonal activity. These chemicals also only block out UVB rays – UVB rays are known as the good form that helps your skin produce Vitamin D while letting UVA rays the bad form through. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply causing free radical damage and sun burn.

We need healthy exposure to the sun – that is not sun bathing for hours but like anything we do we need to build it up gradually.  You may start out with just a few minutes a day and slowly build from there – at the point you skin turns the lightest shade of pink (if your Caucasian) it’s time to get out of the sun.

Supplementing Vitamin D helps to protect you and you can also wear appropriate clothing cotton has a SPF of around 15. Nutrition is also super important Omega 3’s and fresh vegetables add nutrients that will aid in protection. Lastly you can also buy a quality sunscreen product – check out the ingredients and avoid products that are laden with chemicals or that contain vitamin A. Learn more about safe sun screens at http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/

So get out in the sun – for a little bit. If you are going to be outside for a longer period of time make sure you wear a cap and cover up appropriately and or use a safe sun screen that will protect you against the UVA rays and don’t block the UVB rays.

–          Anthony

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