Get Some Safe Sun!

Vitamin D is one of the most important yet most deficient vitamin in the United States. It is responsible for calcium and phosphorus absorption, bone formation and maintenance, neuromuscular function, and several other functions.

We touched on it yesterday, but let’s talk about sunshine. Isn’t it odd that we are told to protect ourselves from the very source of most of our vitamin D?

Until about 50 years ago, sunshine was the “healing miracle”. It is speculated that hunter-gatherer populations enjoyed 10-20,000 IUs of vitamin D per day. Our recommended daily allowance is 400 IU per day. Although low, this is an improvement on previous recommendations and is always rising.

Rickets, a bone disease in children in which bones soften or do not form properly, is cured or prevented with adequate vitamin d. Many other types of illnesses, like osteomalacia, were improved or cured with adequate sunshine as well.

Sunshine was so great that a solarium was built in Boston for this very purpose. And it is known that we absorb ½ the vitamin D from our diets that we can absorb from the sun.

Why the opposite now?

What exactly to we get from the sun?

For our purposes, we absorb ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB) and photoproducts from the sun. UVA rays constitute 90-95% of the rays we absorb and UVB rays make up the rest.

UVB rays cause your skin to tan. They activate melanin, a natural sun screen that pigments your skin and prevents burning. UVB rays also cause vitamin D production.

UVA rays are known for premature aging and wrinkling properties.

Before sunscreen your skin turned red and hot when it had sufficient sun. You knew it was time to go inside or cover up.

Now, people play all day in the sun and never burn because of sunscreen. Is sunscreen much much more dangerous than you ever imagined? Yes.

Until recent years, sunscreen ONLY blocked UVB rays, the ones that cause your skin to tan and then burn. This also blocked all vitamin D production.

While you enjoyed playing all day in the sun with no burn you not only failed to produce any vitamin D, but your body absorbed mega-doses of UVA rays. UVA rays cause premature aging and wrinkling and may be the culprits of common skin cancers.

Let’s go over that again. Sunscreens block UVB rays that initiate vitamin D production AND the skin’s natural sunscreen against harmful sun while they LET IN mega-doses of harmful UVA rays.

Although we have broad-spectrum sunscreens today that also block out some of the UVA rays, they are by no means perfect. They still fail to block ALL of the UVA rays.

What’s a person to do? What’s safe?

The ideal solution is to get safe sun. Spend 10-30 minutes per day in the sun from 10 AM – 3 PM. Build up your tan, your natural protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Gradually spend more and more time in the sun to maintain your bones and prevent cancer and osteomalacia.

Still need to be outside? Cover up if there is a chance you will burn to allow your skin to rest. It IS important NOT to burn. Or you can use a broad spectrum sunscreen.

The thing about sunscreens, however, is that you no longer have a way to tell when you have had enough.

Use wise judgment. Go inside when necessary.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field