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Do You Have to Pick One: Vitamin D vs SPF


Vitamin D is a necessity in our body yet one that gets overlooked far too often.  Too little and a whole host of problems can arise.  Ranging from brittle bones due to poor calcium absorption to weakened immune system, low levels of vitamin D can be quite dangerous.  

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) however, many people choose to increase that often up to 4000 IU per day.  In order to ingest that naturally, via real food sources, you could consume either six eggs, four cups of raw milk, or three tablespoons of cod liver oil. How about 125 gallons of mushrooms? Neither sound like ideal solutions to me.  

Of course, those who prefer to ingest their D usually purchase a synthetic version in gummies, capsules, or liquid drops. But what about the one thing that can naturally give us all the vitamin D we need?

Oh, the sun.  That one controversial topic no one can really agree on.  Are you more likely to get skin cancer from the sun exposure or the toxic chemicals in the sunscreen you use to block out the rays? I believe the correct answer is both.  But I also believe that both can be done properly to help avoid skin cancer.

To far too many people, sunscreen is their Holy Grail and as long as they’ve got their SPF 50 they’re set for life! The truth is that sunscreen does not protect against everything and is most often forgotten to be reapplied or is applied incorrectly. How many times do you see people at the beach show up, find their spot, unpack and set up, and only once they are all laid out grab the bottle to start slathering it on children who run immediately into the water? Sunscreen is typically supposed to be put on 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapplied hourly with another 30 minute wait before getting wet.  

We all know it’s not a good thing to get sunburnt.  Hence why we see the vast majority out there attempting to get at least one coat of white stuff all over.  But what does sunscreen do? Or, at least, what does it claim to do?  Sunscreen is made and tested to make sure it blocks out a certain percentage of UVA and UVB rays.  

UVA rays penetrate deep into your skin which can lead to a host of things like premature aging, wrinkling, and, more recently discovered, also greatly responsible for skin cancer.  UVB rays are the rays that hit your outer skin layers affecting your melanin giving you that tanned skin.  It, too, can be responsible for skin cancer since it is the ray that causes you to burn.  However, when UVB rays are absorbed by the body the kidneys and liver get to work turning those rays into a form of vitamin D the body can work with!

Before you get too excited thinking you can just pop outside for a bit, let’s look at where you live.  Is it on the equator? No? Way north of it? Well, I’ve got some bad news.  The further north you go (or south) the less rays reach you especially during the winter months.  The sun just does not go high enough in the sky to get those rays all the way down to you.  

During the summer you might think, “Hey, I get lots of sun exposure so I’m set for these months!” Yes and no… Yes you have that option but there is such thing as too much of a good thing! Checking your city’s UV index will help you to know how powerful the rays are for the day.  The higher the rays, the more dangerous it will be for you to be outside during the sun’s most potent times.

So, what is the right answer to getting the proper amount of sun without damaging yourself or using too many toxic ingredients? Sad to say there isn’t one right answer that can satisfy the world.  Checking the UV index for the day and avoiding the most potent times is a great start to not burning your skin.

Ten to 15 minutes a day (depending on where you live), twice a week with arms and legs exposed can give you a great deal of vitamin D for the week.  Just remember your face and neck do not need to be exposed to achieve this and to avoid premature aging wear a hat and sunglasses. When in doubt just enjoy the outdoors from under an umbrella or lovely shade tree.

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