Sunshine, Sun Block and Vitamin D

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By Madison Wright, Core Fusion Teacher + Blog Coordinator

Summer is here and the sun is bestowing its magnificent, vitamin D filled rays across all that is outdoors. For those of us living near and above the Mason Dixon Line after those brutally cold winter months, the summer sunshine feels as exciting and obligatory as a massive stack of gifts on Christmas morning when you’re six years old. You know it’s coming every year, but days feel like weeks and weeks feel like months and it just can’t get here soon enough! Yes summer sun, we love you and we are thrilled you’re here!

As with all good things, we must take the necessary precautions to steer clear of “too much.” So to play it safe this summer, here are few things you should know about getting the right amount of sun and choosing the right sunscreen…

First things first, the sun plays an integral role in you fulfilling your Vitamin D requirements. So even though you don’t want to get “too much” you do want to get some. I will keep it short on the importance of Vitamin D, besides playing a crucial role in disease prevention, Vitamin D affects nearly 10% of the 30,000 genes in your body.. that’s 3,000 of your genes that Vitamin D has a hand in! The best way to get Vitamin D? You guessed it, exposure to sunlight! Here’s your easy guide on getting optimal D (given that you’re the average healthy individual):

Light-Fair Skin: Sun exposure (without sunblock) for at least 15-20 minutes on large area of bare skin. UV-B rays must be present
Darker Pigmented Skin: It can take 3-6 times longer for proper exposure to ensure you’ll get enough D. UV-B rays must be present

It’s important to note, that you do not need to burn or even tan your skin to get enough exposure and burning can lead to serious health consequences. Additionally, when you overexpose your skin the UV-B rays actually start to degrade Vitamin D. For a more thorough guide to determine your optimal sun exposure and Vitamin D needs, click here.

So once you’ve gotten your sunny rays for good health, it’s time to lather up…. Let’s talk sun block!

SPF Level: Choosing an SPF level is very individual; the number represents the increased amount of time your own skin can be in the sun without a sunburn. For example, if you tend to burn within 20 minutes of being in the sun, and you apply SPF 30, you will be protected for 600 minutes. Of course, this often doesn’t account for sweating or swimming, so if either of these come into play, reapply.

There are two types of sun screen to choose from: chemical blocks and physical blocks.

Chemical block sunscreens (UV absorbers): contain ingredients like Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Benzophenone. How it works: Once the UV rays penetrate skin they are “absorbed” by the chemicals. A chemical reaction then takes place within the tissues of your skin to dispel potential harmful effects from the sun.

Recent research has shown that some of the chemical compounds in chemical sunscreens (one of the biggest culprits being Benzophenones and its derivatives) can cause allergic reactions and has also been linked to low birth weight for babies born to mothers using chemical sunscreens during pregnancy. What’s more, is that the chemicals in these sun blocks don’t just hang out on and in the skin to be wiped off, if left on the skin long enough, they will eventually travel into your bloodstream potentially leading to more deleterious situations. In reaction to this evidence, some companies, like IS Clinicals have created a new, healthier type of sunscreen; physical blockers.

Physical block sunscreens: These sunscreens are generally made from more naturally occurring ingredients like zinc and titanium oxide. They also tend to be more skin-friendly and are great for people with sensitive skin. How it works: These sunscreens do not penetrate the skin, rather they sit on top of the skin (think the pink goo that our mom’s put on our noses as kids) creating a barrier between us and the sun. Because of the physical barrier created by a large army of tiny zinc microspheres, the UVA and UVB rays lose the chance to be absorbed by the skin, putting a stop to potential harmful effects! The even better news, IS Clinical and many others have produced natural, invisible, fine dusting powders and creams (face and body) so you can avoid looking like a body-painted ghost at Halloween. That’s right my friends, the level of ghostly pale is now in your control and invisible to the naked eye. Drawback, should you go swimming, the powders tend to cake or “mud” up.

Benefits of Physical Block Sunscreens:
• Ingredients are natural
• No chemical reaction in your skin
• No need for reapplication (unless you’re a sweater)
• Good for daily, non-pool use

The take home; sunshine is healthy for you but as with anything in life, moderation is important. Get enough.. not too much, keep sun block handy and enjoy getting sandy!

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