By Dr. Jamie Richards
"I can’t wait to see the sun again!” (yes summer is almost here...I think...)
How often do we find ourselves saying this during the winter months only to lather ourselves and our children with sunscreen to “protect” us from the same life-giving rays we so desperately craved only months before.
You Need the Sunshine Vitamin
Sunshine doesn’t just feel great; it’s a vital component of healthy living. With over 3,000 binding sites for Vitamin D in every cell, we are clearly designed to soak up enough rays to produce the Vitamin D we require for health and cell function.
The good news is we really don’t need to do much; our body takes care of everything. By simply getting adequate exposure to the sun, UVB rays interact with cholesterol in your skin (this is why cholesterol-lowering drugs make it more difficult to produce enough vitamin D), conversions occur in the liver and kidney…and tada!
The Problems with Sunscreen
The problem is, we rarely allow that natural process to occur. A culture of fear has been bred regarding sun exposure and it’s getting out of hand. Sunscreen blocks UVB rays that cause sunburns, but also blocks the production of Vitamin D in the process. In addition, you gain a false sense of security because no burn is present, but UVA rays are still able to penetrate the skin more deeply and cause free radical damage, and DNA mutation. All this contributes to cancer.
Why not just use a full spectrum sunscreen and avoid all the controversy? Most sunscreens, even “full spectrum” sunscreens, fall far short of blocking the entire UVA spectrum, leaving the skin exposed to the damage caused by UVA penetration.
Most sunscreens also contain toxic chemicals and known carcinogens that we unknowingly apply to our children’s skin and expose to UV rays. I’m not sure, but do you think that passes the common sense test?
Is the Sun Really so Bad?
The point – how can something our body requires for optimal health and life be so horrible for us? Of course, in excessive amounts, damage can occur, but that’s no different than getting excessive amounts of water – it’s called drowning!
Malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is more prevalent with indoor vs. outdoor workers and most often found on areas of the skin that are not exposed to UV rays.
There’s a reason our body has the mechanisms for protection built in. It’s intelligent. It’s By Design that we make melanin (and a tan) to absorb UV rays.
The Bottom Line
Eating By Design is your first line of defence against damage as adequate antioxidants and a balanced omega 3:6 ratio reduce your chance of burning. Stay in the sun until the skin is pink and then move inside or cover up. If you need to be in the sun for extended periods of time use a sunblock with zinc oxide as its main active ingredient.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be a vampire.