Monday, July 2, 2012

Enjoying Sun with Protection

Sun exposure can be good!  It's not the enemy that we sometimes perceive it to be.  It's important to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.  In order to maintain ideal vitamin D levels in the body, we need to spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun, a few more if you are dark-skinned.  Research has shown that daily sunshine reduces your incidence of breast cancer, colon cancer, and osteoporosis.  It can increase serotonin levels, improve immunity, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve sex drive, and regulate sleep patterns.  Enjoying the sun safely can be key.

Sunscreens are labeled with their Sun Protection Factor, or SPF.  This measures the amount of UVB radiation needed to cause sunburn with the sunscreen on, compared to the amount required to burn without it.  You might think that, if you want to prevent sun damage, a higher SPF value would offer more protection.  Unfortunately, SPF does not take into consideration the damage done by UVA rays, and fails to account for the damage done by sunscreens after sun exposure.  UVA rays play a role in premature skin aging and malignant melanoma.  It penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB.  UVA rays, thought of as "tanning rays", cause wrinkling and other age-related skin decline.  Although some people think that a tan looks 'healthy', it is actually the skin's self-protective reaction to UV light.  When UV rays enter the skin, they damage the cells DNA.  This triggers the production of melanin over the two days that follow in an attempt to prevent further damage.  
SPF 15 absorbs 93 percent of UVB rays, whereas SPF 30 absorbs 97percent, and SPF 50 absorbs 98 percent.  The higher the SPF, the higher the levels of estrogenic and inflammatory ingredients. 

Now that you understand the SPF 100 probably isn't the healthiest for your body, what are recommendations?  Here are a few suggestions:

* Wear sun-protective clothing-  Sun shirts can provide SPF 10-15 and can provide even protection (no gaps or missed spots)

*Apply zinc several times a day-  Zinc oxide cannot be made water-resistant or waterproof, so it needs to be reapplied if you are in the water or perspiring.

*Use zinc-only mineral makeup- Many mineral make ups come in the form of loose powders in a mixture of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  When inhaled, titanium dioxide can contribute to a serious disease caused lung fibrosis.  Zinc does not carry the same risks.


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