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Day 13 - Let’s talk about sunshine

How have we gotten so freaked out about the sun?

It’s been around for a while. It seems like we’re being told to slather on the SPF 50 sunscreen with a paint roller just to make it from your front door to the safety of your heavily tinted windows of your car in the driveway.

Maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but every time I go to the dermatologist the posters and the warnings are ever present.

The FDA recommends at least SPF-15 and re-apply it every 2 hours.

It seems like the consensus from dermatologists is SPF-30 or higher and also to reapply every 2 hours or more often if you’re in the water or sweating.

And it’s hard to spend any time outside in Texas and not sweat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not recommending that you baste yourself with coconut butter and get fried at the beach.

I absolutely agree with the recommendations that you need to avoid getting burned.

I’m just curious about a few things.

Why are only a few dermatologists concerned about the impact that head to toe SPF-50 application has on our vitamin D absorption and why aren’t more dermatologist concerned about some of the studies about the endocrine disruption potential found in a number of sunscreens?

The Environment Working Group (EWG) has a couple of great pieces on factors to consider when buying a sunscreen.

The Trouble With Ingredients in Sunscreens

Nanoparticles in Sunscreens

I try to get at least one and sometimes two, 30-40-minute walks in a day and I don’t wear sunscreen during my walks.

If I was fair skinned and freckled I might have to adjust that approach.

If I’m going to play golf or be outside for an extended period of time I make certain to put on sunscreen.

I used to always use Neutrogena SPF- 55, but after finding out that oxybenzone (one of Neutrogena’s ingredients) gets absorbed into the bloodstream I decided that I’m going to give one of the zinc oxide-based sunscreens another chance.

Since I’m pretty sure I don’t have an oxybenzone deficiency that needs supplementing, I’m going to try one of the other physical blocker types of sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to reflect the suns rays instead of chemicals like oxybenzone to chemically block/alter the sun’s impact on your skin.

Here are two paragraphs from the first EWG piece that got my attention:

Laboratory studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones, and physicians report sunscreen-related skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended human health consequences from frequent sunscreen application.

Intentional dosing studies in people are rare. In one study, human volunteers applied a lotion with oxybenzone and two other sunscreen ingredients. Researchers reported a minor but statistically significant decrease in testosterone in men, accompanied by a minor increase in inhibin B, another male sex hormone (Janjua 2004). The researchers concluded these differences were normal variations and not attributed to sunscreen exposure, but critics argue that the exposures were too short to be conclusive (Krause 2012).

It may be no big deal, but if I’m going to coat myself in something, I’d rather it not be getting absorbed into my system, especially if there are disagreements about what kind of trouble it might be stirring up once it’s inside.

Regardless of how much you love tuna, beef liver, cheese, and eggs (they’re all good sources of vitamin D) it’s almost impossible to get all of our vitamin D from what we eat. Sure, you can take D3/K2 supplements to increase your D3 levels, but I’d rather make it than take it. We need sunshine to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.

Be smart about it. The amount of safe exposure is going to depend on a number of variables. Your latitude, elevation, the time of year, how fair is your skin and how much sun exposure you normally get – all of these factors affect how much sun exposure you can get without burning.

According to the Vitamin D Council, the amount of time that your skin needs to be exposed to the sun in order to generate a significant amount of Vitamin D can range from 15 minutes for a fair skinned person to up to two hours for someone with dark complexion.

Once again, ease into it.  You’re not shooting for the George Hamilton award, you’re just aiming for topping off your Vitamin D levels.

So why am I so concerned about you getting enough Vitamin D?

Read this quote from Dr. Michael Holick (endocrinologist at Boston University’s School of Medicine) in his article, “Sunlight and Vitamin D for Bone Health and Prevention of Autoimmune Diseases, Cancers, and Cardiovascular Disease” in the December 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

“Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized epidemic among both children and adults in the United States. Vitamin D deficiency not only causes rickets among children but also precipitates and exacerbates osteoporosis among adults and causes the painful bone disease osteomalacia. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risks of deadly cancers, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. “

Assignments for today – Cook a vegetable that you don’t eat all the time.  Saute or roasting are great options, it doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.  Salt, pepper, a little olive oil and you’re in business.

Besides your walk, let’s work a little yoga into the rotation.  DownDog is a great app, but there are lots of free yoga videos on YouTube.  And last but definitely not least – get your 7-8 hours of sleep.


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