You’ve heard this before a countless number of times: “Be sure to lather on the sunscreen when you go outside in the sun!” in order to prevent the risk of skin cancer. But is that really true? Do you need to PAINT your skin white with sunscreen in order to avoid the sun’s warm rays which are the #1 source for triggering the activation of Vitamin D in your body? Over the last few decades that we’ve been sternly warned that everyone should wear gobs of sunscreen on their skin when going in the sun, there has also been a MASSIVE decline in the populations’ internal Vitamin D stores. Not a good thing.
A new study from the Journal of American Osteopathic Association estimates that it is very possible that close to 1 BILLION people worldwide may fall into a “deficient” or “insufficient” Vitamin D category. Skin color does affect the amount of Vitamin D the human body will produce, but there are other factors that can severely decrease this critical nutrient. More and more people are unfortunately spending time indoors, at their workplace, in offices, at home, etc. And on top of that, when people DO spend time outdoors, a certain percentage may be lathered with sunscreen, for fear of contracting skin cancer. Other factors that influence Vitamin D activation include diabetes (the kidneys are critical to the final step in activating the nutrient, so if they are damaged, Vitamin D stores will, also), gastrointestinal issues, Vitamin D-poor diets, etc.
One doesn’t need to spend hours on end in the blistering sun. That isn’t very wise. Obtaining at least 20-30 minutes of exposure to as much body surface area as possible (your arms and legs should do fine), several times a week should do the trick. After that, you have several options: put on a long sleeve shirt, a hat, or other protective clothing; find some shade; if you REALLY feel the need for some sunscreen, do a little research and find healthier alternatives to what is commonly sold in the market stores, as these often contain a lot of potentially very harmful and toxic ingredients which could also lead to skin cancer. Believe it or not, the skin is able to absorb a lot of things!
Bottom line, you want to protect your skin at the same time that you need your skin to be exposed to UV-B rays in order to produce Vitamin D (which is important in bone health, immune function; healthy, normal cell reproduction, warding off depression, etc.)…BUT! Always relying on sunscreen to protect you from the risk of skin cancer can be detrimental because a) it will block your skin’s ability to produce this fat-soluble vitamin, and b) sunscreen lotions may contain ingredients which can wreak havoc on the health of your skin and do exactly what it is intended to prevent, as well as mess with body’s hormones! More to come on better alternatives to sunscreens.
For Your Health,