Vitamin D: What You Need To Know Before You Apply Sunscreen

There is nothing better than laying in the sun, baking your body and getting a beautiful summer glow. My teen years were filled with this. I remember baking in the sun with baby oil and even skipping school to get that glow. When you go to the beach now, you see the same but with people rubbing this thick white solution on their bodies, along with their children's.

Don't get me wrong, sunscreen can be a very good thing. But NOT all sunscreens are created equal. I will explain soon, let me first tell you what you should know before you apply sunscreen. 

Too many people worry about adding extra vitamin C to their diet for overall health or when they are sick, but they often don't even think about the sunshine vitamin - vitamin D. Our bodies are creatively designed to see the sun every day, but due to the outbreak of skin cancer, this has us all fearing sunlight. Sunlight and the vitamin D our skin makes from it, is essential for a healthy body. 

If vitamin D were ever a drug, its benefits would make it the most popular ever.
— Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health Inc.

Vitamin D deficiencies include but are not limited to diabetes, hypertension, bone disease, osteoporosis, arterial sclerosis, cancer and autoimmune disease. Scientists found this list so long because vitamin D regulates cells, bodily systems and organs throughout the whole body.

Not only does vitamin D activate your immune system, it strengthens teeth, it boosts athletic performance, it's crucial for calcium absorption, and it has even been found to help reduce cancer cells and prevent cancer. People are so worried about getting skin cancer they block up on sunscreen, yet ironically getting sun exposure will actually prevent cancer!

Research has shown that, on average, Americans are getting enough calcium. A 2003 report from the Nurses Health Study showed vitamin D to be more important than calcium intake for preventing hip fractures in postmenopausal women.
— Jack Norris, Registered Dietitican

So the sun is great for your skin, but too much is not good. Experts say 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure during peak burn hours to the arms and face is enough to get a good dose of vitamin D. Depending on where you live peak hours are between 11 am and 3 or 4 pm. Click here to calculate exactly how much sun exposure YOU need. If you are in the sun long enough for it to start burning cover up with clothes and a hat or wear sunscreen. Sunscreens work by blocking the UVB and UVA light. We need the UVB for our skin to produce vitamin D, that's why it is important to get our daily dose of vitamin D before we apply sunscreen. 

When buying sunscreen always remember to check the ingredients. Anything that goes on your skin will get absorbed straight into your bloodstream. Another reason why you shouldn't wear chemical ridden makeup, moisturisers or deodorants. The safest sunscreen for your health will have zinc oxide as its active ingredient and a few types of natural oils, aloe vera and vitamin E - and that's it - no synthetic chemicals, dyes, parabens etc. Make sure your sunscreen is nanoparticle free and not tested on animals! Nanotechnology is a whole other blog post, but in a nutshell, they can cause damage to the DNA in human skin cells and it is known they can inhibit the growth of and kill kidney cells. Yikes! So stay right away.

Also, double check your sunscreen blocks UVA rays as it's the UVA that causes skin cancer.

If you are out in the sun (after you have had your daily dose of sunshine) the best sort of sunscreen is a hat and covered clothes! Neither baking your body during peak burn hours or burnt skin is healthy. I can honestly say I have barely had to use sunblock this summer because I've been sun smart. During peak hours, Beth and I will only go out into the sun for about 15 minutes to get our daily dose of sun before heading back inside. Then at around 5 o'clock we will head to the beach for the rest of the day - no sun block needed. 

If you can't get into the sunshine, supplementation is highly recommended. My family and I take a vegan vitamin D3 supplement a lot throughout the winter months and on days where we can't go into the sun. I have even supplemented Beth with vitamin D3 since she was born. 

Note: that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, therefore taking vitamin D supplements with foods that contain fat might increase absorption.

The topic of vitamin D is so large I have barely been able to cover it. Here are some great sources where you can learn more about vitamin D and nanotechnology:

How do you get the vitamin D my body needs - Vitamin D Council

Calcium and Vitamin D - by Jack Norris, RD

Nanotechnology - Nanomaterials, Sunscreens and Cosmetics 

Vitamin D - Cancer Prevention and Vitamin D

Vitamin D - The Uncensored Family Guide to Vitamin D