Our skin is our body’s largest organ. We’ve been told for decades that sun exposure causes skin cancer, wrinkles, and cataracts. But sun exposure is not only pleasurable, it also has health benefits that probably exceed any health risks.
In fact, a recent article by the Institute for Natural Healing suggests that sun exposure reduces ones risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, chemical sunscreens (about 95% of all sunscreens) are probably carcinogenic, and some sunscreens contain nanoparticles, which can penetrate into your very cells with unknown health impacts. That’s right: Sunscreen – which is supposed to protect you from cancer – causes cancer.
So, what are the benefits of sun exposure, and how can you maximize the benefits while minimizing the negatives?
Sun exposure offers numerous health benefits ranging from enhanced mood to Vitamin D production, which reduces cancer risk and contributes to healthy teeth and bones. And this naturally-produced Vitamin D is far superior to synthetic Vitamin D pill supplements. Our hero Dr. Mercola thinks Vitamin D is so important he has a page dedicated to Vitamin D on his website.
OK, so some sun exposure is healthy and sunscreen is not. But I don’t want to burn or look like a dried prune when I’m 60. I enjoy the sun almost daily. And I do so intelligently.
First I eat a diet full of phytonutrients that protect my skin and eyes from sun damage: fruits, vegetables and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids all give us numerous nutrients that protect our skin. One supplement in particular that can help protect skin from sunburn (along with a host of other benefits) is astaxanthin. I take 5 mg daily.
Since the skin on our face and neck is more delicate than the skin on our bodies, I also wear a broad-brim (4-inch brim) hat when I’m outdoors. My two favorite hats during physical activities like beach volleyball, soccer, or hiking are both from the company Sun Day Afternoons; I like the Field Hat and the Sport Hat.
And, when I have received enough sun I put on a long-sleeve shirt or seek shade. I like light-colored cotton shirts, which provide about SPF 10. Tighter weaves will provide a higher SPF. Finally, for places that are difficult to cover like my hands or lips, I use lipbalm or sunscreen with no synthetic ingredients.
The only sunscreen I trust is titanium dioxide. My favorite brand is Hara. And, of course, I wear sunglasses with UV400 or better protection.