Healthy Skin Blog

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The Science of Sun Exposure

The Science of Sun Exposure

This time a year I always get questions regarding sun exposure and how to best protect and prevent from skin cancers, erase sunspots and at the same time get the healthy dose of vitamin D that our bodies need. Our body’s response to the sun continues to be at the forefront of medical research and one of the few things that are known for sure at this point is that our bodies need the sun.

Here are the latest facts:

Allowing for proper absorption of the sun without inviting oxidative damage is vital for the synthesis of vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency is a big issue these days.

Our skin absorbs the sun light and uses it to make vitamin D3 that gets converted into an active hormone which substance plays an important roll in almost every system of our body. This compound builds healthy bones; keep the immune system tuned and our circulatory system healthy. Vitamin D also keeps our cells healthy and studies have shown there is a link between higher rates of several deadly cancers and a vitamin D deficiency.

It is known that the sun is good for our health and well being and that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D available. It requires to spend about an hour in the sun per week for the body to produce the daily allowance of 600 IU for women up to age 70 and 800 IU for those older than 70. That requirement can also be reached through diet and supplementation, however there is a slight risk that the body may store vitamin D, which can be toxic. If you don’t get your vitamin D the “natural way” always test your levels before you start supplementation and then again after you’re on it for a while.

Because of warnings about the dangers of the sun, avoidance of sunlight is often recommended. This well-meaning advice about sun-avoidance has caused an epidemic deficiency of vitamin D. The question is how can we access the health benefits without accumulating long-term damage that can lead to skin cancers? Is it possible that our response to the sun is not due to the sun being harmful, but rather a deficiency that lies within us? John Hopkins University began studying this theory in 2007. Lots of clinical studies confirm that by boosting nutrition and using common sense during exposure the future of sun care is bright, just follow these advice for healthy sun exposure:

  • Go out in the sun for 10- 20 minutes 3 times a week to ensure a proper amount of Vitamin D uptake. It takes less time for the body to produce vitamin D when fair skinned.
  • During that time expose as much of your skin as possible and skip the sunglasses.
  • Get your vitamin D safely means NOT ALLOW SKIN TO BURN. When out in the sun for longer periods use protective clothing and a sunscreen with antioxidants and mineral-derived sun reflecting ingredients like Titanium Dioxide.
  • Increase nutritional levels of vitamin B (it reduces the inflammatory response to the sun).
  • Eat lots of broccoli!  Broccoli sprouts has a protective chemical agent that works inside the cells by boosting the production of a network of protective enzymes that defend cells against many aspects of UV damage.
  • Drinking two glasses of milk a day is enough to meet the daily requirement. Yogurt, eggs and some cereals are good sources and so are eating a single portion of swordfish, salmon or tuna.

Personally I get my healthy dose of sun exposure when I’m out for a daily run with my dog. To protect my face and chest from getting hyper-pigmented I avoid being out between 10-2 and I pay attention to how much exposure I get. I slather on SPF 30 with extra attention to face, chest and back of hands half an hour before exposure and reapply every two hours if needed.  My favorite sunscreen of all times is Kerstin Florian Spa Sun for Face and Body SPF 30; it’s the best!

PS. Small things, like driving a car without proper protection can also contribute to skin aging and hyper pigmentation over time, therefore I always bring along a travel size of Kerstin Florian Multivitamin SPF 30 so I can apply when needed.

Be wise while enjoying the many benefits from the sun;

Happy Summer!


Article Bibliography: Les Novelles Esthetiques, May 2012, The Science of Sun Exposure, by Anne C Willis.

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