As the temperature rises our thoughts often turn to tanning. For several years, we have been cautioned to protect our skin from harmful UVB rays, by slathering on high SPF sunscreen.
Sunlight provides us with a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is essential in the development of strong bones. It is also thought to protect us against certain cancers, as well as insulin resistance. Sunlight also enables our natural immunity, promotes the growth and healing of our skin, and stimulates hormone production. Medical guidelines suggest that 15-20 minutes of daily sunlight is good for you.
Over the past 30 years, the incidence of melanoma, or skin cancer has increased dramatically. During this period, the use of sunscreens has increased as well. Researchers are wondering if there is a correlation.
Some of the ingredients in sunscreen are potentially toxic. Avoid products containing retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate and avobenzone, which are known to cause lesions when exposed to the sun, and can interfere with hormone receptors in our bodies. Sunscreens with parabans are also not recommended.
It is not known if UVA or UVB rays cause skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to use a broad-spectrum mineral based product that blocks both.
Fortunately, there are other sources of vitamin D. Look to low fat dairy products and supplements to reap the benefits of without the potential harm.
photo: Glasshouse Images