I don’t know about you, but to me, summer is so special. The sun is finally shining, the days are longer, and there’s lots of BBQs! What could be better!? I love to spend my days at the beach, soaking up the sun and spending time with friends and family.
Summer is usually when a lot of us feel the happiest and have the most energy, and there’s a logical reason why…
Because what makes summer so special exactly? All that SUN! And what does the sun give us? Vitamin D!
Exposure to the sun is the best and most effective way to absorb vitamin D. Fun fact: our bodies actually create vitamin D in the skin from our own cholesterol when we are exposed to sunlight! We can get some vitamin D from food, but almost never enough to reach healthy levels. Vitamin D is a powerhouse that helps our body in tremendous ways and is so crucial for optimal health.
So the one thing we can do this summer for better health and happiness!? Spend some time out in the sun!
Why is vitamin D so beneficial for us?
- Keeps our bones healthy and strong.
- Strengthens our immune system, so we’re less likely to get sick.
- Helps protect us from cancer by regulating cell growth and enhancing cell-to-cell communication.
- Helps to regulate our mood and ward off depression.
- Can increase your physical strength.
- Reduces your risk of type 1 diabetes.
- May help you live longer!
All these benefits sound pretty great to me!
But here’s the problem…most of us aren’t getting enough quality sunshine exposure to have sufficient vitamin D levels, making us unable to reap the amazing benefits.
Unfortunately, using sunscreen impairs our body’s ability to create vitamin D. Sunscreen blocks the UV rays from entering our skin, but those UV rays are required for vitamin D production. So we may be spending time outside, but not actually getting much vitamin D!
So what do we do? How do we have HEALTHY and safe sun exposure?
Here’s the best way to do it: when you go outside, spend the first 10-30 minutes or so with no sunscreen on depending on your skin tone and how prone you are to burning. Personally, I’m very fair and burn easily, so at the beginning of summer, I can usually only spend about 15-20 minutes or so in the sun (sunscreen-free) until I start to burn. Eventually though, as my skin creates melanin (the body’s natural sunscreen) and gets tanner, I can be out in the sun for an hour or two with no problem! You have to use your own judgment and ease in slowly. Remember, burning is NEVER good and is not healthy.
In general, people who have lighter skin obtain higher vitamin D levels much quicker than those with darker skin (because they naturally have more melanin). Therefore, individuals with a darker skin tone usually need to spend more time outside to get the same amount of vitamin D as a person with a lighter skin tone.
Also, the more skin you expose in the sun, the better. Exposing more skin allows your body to absorb more UV rays so it can make more vitamin D faster. So go have fun at the beach or by the pool in your bikini!
But remember, there is a fine line between healthy sun exposure and unhealthy sun exposure, which can quickly lead to burning of the skin. Sunburns can cause skin damage and can be very dangerous, and we need to be extra careful to be vigilant of our skin while out in the sun.
Once you’ve spent a little bit of time out in the sun with no sunscreen, then you can either apply a safe sunscreen or go into the shade. When using sunscreen, make sure you are careful to use a product with no toxic (and potentially cancer-causing) chemicals. Here is a great website to help find cleaner sunscreens.
And here are some popular and healthier sunscreen options:
Don’t be afraid of healthy, safe amounts of sun exposure! It’s so beneficial for us, and you’ll most likely feel more energized, happier and much more vibrant!