Hi everyone, Dr. Junger here.
We hear a lot of conflicting and confusing messages about sun exposure.
On the one hand, we are told that sun exposure is an important way to get vitamin D and that we should spend more time outdoors. On the other hand, we’re told that skin cancer is on the rise and results from too much sun, so we need to cover up.
Which of these statements are true?
Both of them.
We need sun exposure to keep our vitamin D at healthy levels. And we need to protect ourselves from too much sun, one of the factors in certain kinds of skin cancer.
I’ve put together the following tips to help you have a safe and healthy summer.
Six Sun Safety Tips
1. Cover up. This is the best method of sun protection. A hat and shirt can protect you from the strongest sun rays. You can also remove them quickly and get direct sun exposure without sunscreen. Here you get sun protection and vitamin D absorption. For those with fair skin, use a hat and shirt in addition to sunscreen and supplement accordingly.
2. Stay in the Shade. You won’t find most animals laying on the beach baking in the middle of the day. You’ll find them relaxing in the shade. UV rays are greatest when the sun is the highest in the sky between 10am and 4pm. If you can, try getting direct sun exposure in the morning and evening and relaxing in the shade when the UV is highest.
3. Use Natural Sunscreen. This is a must. Look for chemical-free varieties, high in UVB and UVA protection, that have a rating of "1" on the EWG Sunscreen Guide. Avoid oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Three of our favorites are Suntegrity, Nuture My Body, and Babo Botanicals.
4. Do the Clean Program and eat clean. Skin issues, including skin cancer, are not solely a result of sun exposure. Cancer is almost always a result of factors which may include family history, sun exposure, ozone depletion, vitamin deficiencies, and toxicity. The last two we can correct by doing the Clean Program, supplementing, and eating a clean diet. As with most chronic conditions, cleansing and clean eating are the foundation of prevention.
5. Examine your skin. Check your skin regularly for new moles and contact your doctor if they are growing or tender.
6. Supplement Vitamin D. The balance between getting enough vitamin D and protecting ourselves from the sun is not always obvious. Supplementing Vitamin D3 is the easiest way to make sure you are getting what you need, even during the summer.