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Vitamin D & Sunscreen

Updated: May 28, 2023

We have recently moved and our new place as a saltwater #swimming pool. We love this as it allows us to play in the water without suffering consequences of swimming pool chemicals. My daughter has eagerly been awaiting opportunity to jump in the pool for months now and asked every single day after our move when the pool would open. Down here in Kentucky, we see warmer weather a little sooner than we did up in Indiana, so May 1st we were swimming and of course, in our excitement, it was May 1st that we got a little too pink.

My goal every year is to get a little sun every day, without sunscreen, but not to overdue it to the point that any one of us get burned all in one day. This little bit nourishes our bodies, helps to balance our hormones and feed our bones, without causing harm. If we are out in the sun longer, we wear the long sleeve swim tops and a sun hat, as well as sunglasses. This isn't to say we never utilize sun screen, and Ruby's summer school requires sunscreen. Unfortunately, they require that all the kids use the same brand - a brand with a not-so-fabulous safety rating. Let me tell you what I mean here and what I am mindful of when it comes to #sunscreen.

Sun screen should be zinc oxide and stay white on your skin. This creates a physical barrier to protect your skin from the sun. Those that soak into your skin are chemicals that pose risk to your health. For example, some of these chemicals disrupt hormones, especially in children. EWG offers information on chemicals typically found in sunscreens and details which are endocrine disruptors or estrogenic and may interfere with your thyroid or other hormone processes.

The most common sunscreen chemical is Oxybenzone. It was found in 96 percent of the population in a recent study by the Center for Disease Control, and its a known endocrine disruptor, which can reduce sperm count in men and contribute to endometriosis in women. The EWG warns against oxeyenzone, especially in children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Those that have little exposure and then burn themselves are those at increased risk. It isn't sun in small doses that are concerning, and ironically, those who use less sunscreen are actually less inclined to skin cancer because these are the people who typically have more frequent, yet shorter exposures that avoid burning, while those that slather on the sunscreen are typically doing so because they are less often in the sun, planning a full day of exposure, and often get burned because of ineffective coverage which ultimately can result in skin damage into future decades. That perfect dose of daily sun exposure will vary from person to person, but if you aim for early morning sunlight with no sunscreen or sunglasses, at least five to ten minutes will greatly enhance your health.

Try wearing sunglasses and a sun hat in the summer, as I mentioned previously, even a light wrap if you’re in the sun longer. A sun umbrella can also be helpful. Sunscreen is a vitamin A derivative, retinal palmitate, which speeds up the growth of cancer cells by 21 percent. Spray screens can be inhaled as well, and Consumer Reports warns that they should not be used on children, or on the face. Many sunscreens also contain methylisothiazolinone, which the American Contact Dermatitis Society named as its “allergen of the year” just a few years back. Other ingredients to avoid include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, octocrylene, avobenzone, and of course, fragrance. Solara Suncare and Taspen's organic sunscreen are great options.

Even though you are in the sun daily, sunscreen completely blocks your ability to manufacture vitamin D so frequent use isn't beneficial for a number of reasons. A deficiency can put you at risk of both cancer and heart disease. Please understand, I want you to exercise caution in the sun. Overexposure can be dangerous. However, sunscreen is not without risk either. There is no evidence that sunscreen protects against cancer or melanoma. The problem is being in the sun without protection, too long. Ironically, skin cancer is rising each year despite the fact that we spend more time indoors and wear more sunscreen. The EWG can guide you in safer sunscreen options.

Natural Treatments for Sunburns

No judgment. Sun burns happen to all of us. All my littles are red heads so they certainly have suffered a few burns in spite of my awareness. There are a multitude of approaches for treating burns, and even more wives-tales, but let me give you a few safe ones.

Aloe vera really is helpful. If you have your own plant, even better. Cut off one of the plant's arms and then splay it open. You can also purchase these in the produce department in your local department store. Use the aloe gel within to rub on the heat of your burn, apply all over and then give it about 15 minutes to get to work. Add to this a homeopathic remedy, #calendula which is derived from the marigold plant. You'll find this product made by Boiron, called calendula cream. Slather it on after the aloe vera application two-to-three-to-four times each day, definitely after showering.

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