It’s finally time for fun in the sun, AND for getting lots of free vitamin D! Just expose as much of your skin as modesty allows to the sun’s UVB rays, and your body will magically transform them into usable vitamin D—a gift from Mother Nature!
Sunlight also increases helpful hormones and neurotransmitters like cortisol, serotonin, GABA and dopamine that promote energy, happiness, and weight loss. And in his book The Healing Sun, Richard Hobday, PhD, says sunlight lowers cholesterol, treats multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis, prevents and treats cancer, lowers blood pressure, kills chronic viral infections, increases muscle strength and improves detoxification. There are probably many more benefits that science hasn’t yet discovered.
So what do the “experts” tell us to do? Cover ourselves up with protective clothing and lotions to block this life-giving source for fear of sunburn, photo-aging (sun damage to skin), and skin cancer. The result? Epidemic vitamin D deficiency and loss of the sun’s many other wonderful benefits.
Ironically, as Elizabeth Plourde, PhD and author of Sunscreens – Bio-hazard: Treat as Hazardous Waste, points out, since the introduction of sunscreens, the number of annual skin cancers has greatly increased, and damage done by sunscreens encourages skin aging!
At Beyond Health, we avoid both sunscreens AND sunburn, sun damage and skin cancer while we maximize benefits from the sun by using the sun intelligently. If our skin starts turning pink, we cover up and get into the shade. But by getting regular sun exposure each day, we gradually build up a protective tan, so we’re able to stay in the sun longer.
We also use antioxidants, internally and topically, to counteract the sun’s damaging effects. We rub beneficial oils like olive oil or coconut oil into our skin or make a skin spray from water and powdered vitamin C. We get plenty of antioxidants from eating fruits and vegetables and taking supplements containing antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A, C, D and E, manganese, selenium and zinc. We use Beyond Health antioxidant formulas like Age Defense, Carotene and Glutathione.
Internal and external antioxidants prolong the time we can spend in the sun without turning pink, but they don’t block the sun’s rays the way sunscreens do, so it’s still necessary to be mindful.
Some people get all the vitamin D they need from the sun and eating animal proteins. Vitamin D is stored in our fat cells, so what you get during the sunny months can last the rest of the year. However many factors—where you live, weather and smog conditions, time of day, natural pigments in your skin, your age, your weight—make a difference in how much vitamin D you get. Most of us need to supplement to reach the recommended “high-normal” levels on a 25(OH)D blood test of vitamin D status. Vitamin D is important to the health of just about every system in your body. So get tested and make sure you’re getting enough one way or another.
And don’t miss your golden opportunity to get as much free vitamin D as you can along with all the other wonderful free goodies from the sun this summer!
- Hobday R. The Healing Sun: Sunlight and Health in the 21st Century. Forres, Scotland, UK: Findhorn Press, 1999.
- Plourde E. The false promises of sunscreens: the real consequences of their use, Part 1. Townsend Letter. July 2012, pp. 108-111.
- Plourde E. The false promises of sunscreens: the real consequences of their use, Part 2. Townsend Letter. August/September 2012, pp. 101-104.
- Traikovich SS. Use of topical ascorbic acid and its effects on photodamaged skin topography. JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. 1999;125(10):1091-1098.
- Shapira N. Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies. Nutrition Review. 2010;68(2);75-86.
For more information on antioxidants see Beyond Health’s Antioxidant Handout.