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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Fun in the Sun

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Psalm 143:8

Summer is officially here June 21st and many are already spending time outside during the day light hours. Here in Texas we know better than to venture outside in the elevating high temperatures in the middle of the day but our family does enjoy being out in the open air. We prefer to not have to use sunscreen and take therefore advantage of optimal times of the day when the weather is not as hot. Before discussing sun safety, let’s take a look at what the sun can offer us.

What About the Benefits of the Sun?

According to some statistics, it seems many people don’t get enough vitamin D. It is manufactured in the presence of sunlight. Dr. Mercola states that “wearing a sunscreen on your uncovered skin blocks your body’s production of vitamin D. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9%. And interfering with your body's production of vitamin D by 97.5 to 99.9% may have dire health consequences.

Here are some of health benefits from vitamin D which can help encourage your healthy lifestyle:

• Support your cardiovascular health
• Promote optimal cholesterol levels
• Enhance your muscle strength
• Help produce optimal blood pressure levels
• Help maintain a healthy immune system
• Support healthy kidney function
• Promote healthy teeth
• Help keep your bones strong and healthy

I found this chart very helpful. These are age-appropriate recommendations from Dr. Mercola.

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations

Age                           Dosage
Below 5                     35 units per pound per day
Age 5 - 10                 2500 units
Adults                        5000 units
Pregnant Women   5000 units

WARNING: There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

It is possible to find out your body’s vitamin D levels with blood work from your doctor if you are unsure and are considering vitamin D supplementation. Overdosing on vitamin D can cause serious conditions. Please keep that in mind.

Can Too Much Sun be Harmful?

Yes, too much sun can be harmful. Getting too much UVA rays can be harmful as it will cause more free radical damage since it penetrates your skin more deeply. UVA and UVB rays are part of the ultra violet rays of the sun. UVB rays which are the good rays, helps your skin produce vitamin D. After doing my own research it seems the most beneficial time for sun exposure would be early o mid morning in the morning or late afternoon. Our bodies will produce vitamin D3 without having to stay long hours in the sun, I’ve read that a minimum of 10-15 minutes two to three times a week of sun exposure to face, arms and legs without sunscreen is sufficient. Another name for vitamin D3 is calciferol, it being the exact form for your body to help your organs and cell function properly. For some who live in the northern hemisphere, sunlight may only be strong enough for six months out of the year. Our family really appreciates taking our Carlson’s lemon flavor Cod Liver oil during the winter months, even in Texas. Vitamin D can also be found in fish oils as well as eggs, organ meats, animal fats such as butter. I’m still researching to find out what vegetables and fruit may contain vitamin D.

Quick Tips for Good Sun Screen For a Good Balance

At times we may need to be outside during the hottest part of the day and at those times protection may be needed. The  Environmental Working Group has wonderfully researched this issue and has worked hard to put together this information for the safety and well-being of everyone. It is strongly suggested that before you even decide to use sunscreen, think about the following.

The best defenses against getting too much harmful UV radiation are protective clothes, shade and timing. Here’s a helpful checklist:

Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered then peeling skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn raises skin cancer risk.
Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
Find shade– or make it.  Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
Plan around the sun. If you can, go out in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday.
Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

(Dr. Mercola from www.Mercola.com suggests using a cap which will allow you to avoid wearing sunglasses thus benefiting from all of the 1500 wavelengths in sunshine. The cap also keeps the sun off the thin skin around the eyes which is particularly sensitive to photoaging damage from the sun.)

What About Sun Screen Products?

Sunscreen products can be found everywhere during this time of the year. We’ve used both what we believe were safe “non toxic” sunscreens and at times purchased unsafe sunscreens. Sometimes when you need to purchase something at last minute, you really don’t have much choice but to choose what’s offered on the store shelf. Often times, we’ve purchased safe sunscreens, used them for a minimum of times and had to throw them out the following year since the efficacy was no longer valid. Regardless, we still prefer a safe “non toxic” sunscreen formula.

If you’re looking for a non toxic brand, here is a list of chemicals you need to avoid, according to Dr. Mercola

• Para amino benzoic acid...
• Octyl salicyclate...
• Avobenzone...
• Oxybenzone...*
• Cinoxate...
• Padimate O...
• Dioxybenzone...*
• Phenylbenzimidazole...
• Homosalate...
• Sulisobenzone...
• Menthyl anthranilate...
• Trolamine salicyclate...
• Octocrylene...

(Potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone (two chemicals just mentioned) are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man)

Safer ingredients to look for would be
• Titanium Dioxide
• Zinc Oxide

For more information about the benefits of Vitamin A and D, what SPFs are all about and how to pick a good sunscreen, click here. You'll be able to read more on the EWG's Shopper's Guide to Safer Sunscreens. Dr. Mercola also offers a safe sunscreen formula. There are many other safe non toxic sunscreens on the market, if you take time to look.

Other Informational Resources

If you would like to continue to your research on sunscreens or information on vitamin D, here are some quick links to help you.

EWG’s Sunscreen Hall of Shame - list of non beneficial sunscreens & whys
EWG’s Surprising Facts About SunMyths behind sunscreens
EWG’s list of best beach sports sunscreens
Dr. Mercola’s Vitamin D resources1 hour video on vitamin D & many other resources

I hope I’ve given you a good start into this intriguing topic. We all want what is best for our family and sometimes this does involve researching which may take some time. But your time will be well spent and so we encourage you to continue with your own research. Be well and may you and your family enjoy your time outside and in the sun!

Information gathered from

I would love to hear what your findings have been regarding this subject as we are all learning, so please share what you believe what everyone could benefit from including me.

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