It’s summer, and the big questions I hear from patients are: What sunscreen do I use? Should I wear a hat or should I stay out of the sun completely? My answer: “ It depends”
On what?, they ask. Lots of things: Genetics, history of skin cancer, diet, time of day etc.
Here is my professional opinion on sun exposure. YOU NEED IT! Everybody needs it.
Consider this simple fact:
Sunshine is the source of all life on planet earth. (Well, God’s the real source but He made the sun for this function.) In our brain is a tiny gland called the pineal gland which, when receiving enough sunlight through our eyes, can greatly reduce depression! ( Isn’t God cool?) Over use of sunglasses or avoiding sun exposure can affect our moods. This need for natural sunlight is why so many people feel the blues during the fall and winter, clinically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.
All food and all energy that we receive somehow begin with the sun.
The reason I promote fresh green leafy vegetables so much is because these wonderful plants literally take sunshine, the source of life, and convert it into usable, absorbable liquid sunshine called chlorophyll. Think of it as the blood of the plant world. Chlorophyll is loaded with healing properties.
Sunshine also converts usable cholesterol in our bodies into vitamin D3. This nutrient is absolutely essential to fight cancer as well as so many other diseases which we will discuss in future articles.
I read an interesting article recently on how Multiple Sclerosis is rare in the sun belt. Some scientists think it may be linked with a virus and that Vitamin D from sun exposure limits the action of this virus.
Statistically most people are low in vitamin D and therefore have a higher risk of cancer and other diseases because of it.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… but doesn’t the sun cause skin cancer, Dr Kulik?
It can… but consider these facts:
The most dangerous time of the day is between 10 am and 2 pm. for burning due to prolonged sun exposure. So if you are constantly baking your under nourished skin in the height of the sun, day in and day out, then yes, it can increase your chances of skin cancer. On the flip side, this also is the time your body can convert Vitamin D the fastest.
So, what is appropriate the appropriate amount of sun exposure? Once the skin starts turning pink you usually will not increase your Vitamin D levels. This will usually occur between 10 -20 minutes in a fair person, longer with darker complexions. This is the optimum time for people to get some sun to maximize their Vitamin D levels. Burning the skin is never a good idea, so if you know your limit, just before you turn pink, its time for some protection. I am not a big fan of most sunscreens because of the huge amount of chemicals used. Protection with clothing, umbrellas, etc is always a better choice.
Here’s a little known fact: More people die every year of other cancers as a result of a lack of vitamin D than from skin cancer! There are a number of studies that have shown that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by sunscreens.
Since skin cancer accounts for only a small percentage of cancers, why limit healthy sun exposure because of a relatively small risk?
But to the eliminate risk, many avoid the sun altogether or put on globs of sun screen. Instead they tell us to simply take Vitamin D supplements.
Hmmm…let’s think about that though. Sunshine is God’s gift and plan for our health and has so many benefits. When God gives us something, man-made synthetics don’t even come close to doing the same job!
Vitamin D levels induced by sun exposure also positively influence heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hormone levels, arthritis, cancer, and more.
Most vitamin D supplements are very inferior to the sun, plus you run the risk of overdose and must be carefully monitored if you’re taking oral supplementation.
This is not true with sun exposure. Your body will actually limit how much vitamin D you produce from sun exposure. (God knows what He’s doing!) Sunshine is also free, another added benefit!
I recommend getting at least 30 to 40 minutes of sun exposure every day during the summer. And time of day matters… A good rule of thumb to know whether or not you’re getting vitamin D when outside is the shadow test. Look at the shadow that your body is casting on the ground. If your shadow is shorter than your body there’s a good chance you’re getting enough sun exposure to produce Vitamin D. If your shadow is longer than your body then the sunshine is producing little, if any Vitamin D.
So what about sunscreen? Sometimes umbrellas and long sleeves just aren’t practical- or comfortable. Let’s face it, we’re all programmed to cover every inch of our bodies with this stuff, but popular wisdom has been shown more and more to be anything but wise. You need sun exposure on skin without sunscreen in order for your body to convert the sunshine to vitamin D, usually at least 10 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day and time of year. If you’ll be in the sun for an extended period of time or at peak hours mid-day, then apply sunscreen after 10 – 30 minutes. Cover areas where you tend to burn or have previous damage from excessive sun exposure but try to leave other areas without sunscreen for that 10 to 30 minute period.
When choosing a sunscreen, I can’t emphasize this enough- go natural! The harmful chemicals in common sunscreens can cause more problems than they purport to solve. Check out your local health food stores or shop online.
Now, get out there and enjoy what God’s created – for you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Kevin Kulik (Chiropractor & Clinical Nutritionist)
After a serious automobile accident, Dr Kevin Kulik was treated in all the traditional ways for a “very painful & permanent” spinal injury. A series of events brought him to a Chiropractic which led to his healing. His journey to wholistic healing and wellness led him to become a Chiropractor and Clinical Nutritionist in 1981.
Dr. K has a passion for Clinical Nutrition and has seamlessly integrated healing through what he refers to as “God’s Medicine”.
Dr. K is a staff member of The Raphael Remedy. View his Profile for more information about his services.
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