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  • Dr. Liz Homan

Sun Exposure. What you need to know about sunblocks...

Summer is unofficially here and what a beautiful weekend we just had! If your family is anything like ours, we love to spend our afternoons outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine! This brought up the conversation of sunscreen between me and Kyle. I wanted share with you some information on sunscreens/sunblocks so that you can make an informed choice on what you do for yourself and your family!

Sunblock was originally developed in 1938 to protect soldiers fighting in the South Pacific from sunburn. Since then, they have come a long way and we now have sunscreens that are waterproof or sweat proof and we have now been told that sunblock is our ultimate protection against most forms of skin cancer. They work by blocking out the UV-B and UV-A rays by utilizing different chemicals.

Well… what really has happened, which honestly is not too surprising, is that the actual effects of the chemicals used in sunscreens has not been fully studied. When the FDA first began regulating sunscreens in the late 70’s, it grandfathered in active ingredients without reviewing the evidence of potential dangers. Some of the most commonly used chemicals (Oxybenzone, Methyl anthranilate, Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) have been shown to have adverse health effects but are not being regulated. The way that these chemicals affect our body is by being absorbed into the blood at levels that may pose health risks. Dr. Joseph Mercola pointed out that the majority of sunscreens have been deemed unsafe for routine use according to an FDA report that has been proposed but has not been implemented yet… Specifically Oxybenzone, has been determined to be a weak estrogen that acts as an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to reduced sperm count in men and endometriosis in women. This doesn’t sound like something I want my family to be using…

Like I said above, these chemicals typically block the suns rays from absorbing into our sun, and while that sounds like that is a good thing, it may not be… the most powerful and natural form of Vitamin D is produced by the body when in direct sunlight! Vitamin D has been shown to have numerous health benefits, and yes, you can get some from supplements (and we do daily), but the most reliable source of the most powerful variant (Vitamin D3) is sunlight! Sun exposer for 10-20 minutes a day is recommended to get the best and most natural source of Vitamin D! When you have on a sunblock, you are preventing your skin from absorbing the suns rays and creating the Vitamin D that it needs to be healthy!

So, what can you do to make sure to get some sun exposure but not damage your skin by getting too much! I do not want any of us to get sun burnt, especially not our little ones!

Consider limiting sun exposure to spans of 10-20 minutes at a time! This will allow for your body to still create the Vitamin D that it needs but will not typically result in skin damage. Also, the sun is typically considered the strongest between the hours of 1-4pm, so limit the amount of time that you are out during those times.

If you cannot limit your sun exposure try these suggestions to prevent skin damage:

o Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing. – the light colored fabric reflects the suns rays instead of absorbing them. You can also investigate sun shirts for yourself and your kids! These are great options to avoid putting chemical on your skin and still being able to stay out in the sun for longer periods of time!

o Wear a hat to protect your face and neck! Make sure that the hat has a wide brim on it and that it also has ventilation on it to prevent overheating. I know that keeping a hat on a child can be difficult, but what we have found works well is that we all wear one. When our children see us doing something, they are much more likely to do the same as well.

o Look into natural sunscreens and only use them when it is truly needed! Just because you are going outside, does not mean that you need to lather sunscreen on you each time! Here is a great resource for you to choose which sunscreen may be best for your family!

I hope that you have found this to be helpful and that you take some time to choose options that will allow your family to get its natural Vitamin D as well as staying safe in the sun! If you have any specific questions, please let me know!

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