Summer. It’s here. The Calendar might not say June 21st yet, but the thermometer is screaming SUMMER! Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month, we are going to dedicate the entire month to helping you find the balance between healthy sun exposure and sun protection. By now most of us are aware that using some kind of sunscreen product is in our best interest – especially when we are enjoying so many outdoor activities. But you might also be hearing some controversial reports about sunscreen and Vitamin D deficiency, or even more confusing, reports of the negative effects of chemical sunscreens and claims that you are better off with out it at all! It’s enough to make your head spin. Follow along with us this month and we’ll try to shed some light on the subject (I couldn’t resist).
Let’s start on a positive note: The Sun is not your enemy. Yes, we need protection and we will get to that, but here are just a few amazing “photo-biochemical” things that happen when our bodies are exposed to natural light.
- Exposure to UV light starts the production of Vitamin D. This “vitamin” is actually a hormone and an important immune system regulator. Vitamin D regulates bone density and strength, protects against neuro-muscular disorders and protects against many forms of cancer – including skin cancer.
- Light stops and starts the production of melatonin – a brain chemical that helps us sleep. This is why indoor lighting after the sun has gone down can contribute to sleep disorders.
- Natural light helps to regulate hormone production and liver function.
- Natural cycles of light and dark also sets the “clock genes” that regulate many bodily functions including cell growth and death – important in cancer prevention.
- Being in the sun also helps to prevent depression.
We as humans have evolved to need some exposure to the sun and natural light. Unless you have been diagnosed with a skin condition that mandates your complete abstinence from the sun, we’ll give you some guidelines to healthy exposure, tips for choosing a good sunscreen product, some innovative ways to get protection as well as ensuring you are getting enough Vitamin D. Stay tuned!