You may be one of those people, like myself for whom summer is far too short !
But like it or not, most of you in the USA only have a few short months to enjoy the sunshine and summer. After spending anywhere from three to six or more months stuck inside, some of you rush out in shorts and tank tops and spend all day on a Saturday or Sunday in the sun. Not only is the golf course beckoning, but so is yard work, the kid's sporting events, and the pool or beach. It's easy to overdo your sun exposure in your quest to finally spend some time outdoors. Especially when your skin is lily-white from being inside for months and not used to the sun. There are many simple lifestyle changes you can make to radically decrease your risk of sunburn, such as, increasing raw fruits and vegetables loaded with skin protecting antioxidant phytonutrients, and avoiding processed foods and sugars. People with increased sun sensitivity may have a higher risk of sun poisoning. Beta-carotene can help prevent sunburn and sun poisoning in individuals with extreme sun sensitivity. Beta-carotene is a pigmented carotenoid found in yellow, orange and green fruits and vegetables, including squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes and cantaloupe. The more vivid a food's color, the more beta-carotene it contains. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, an essential vitamin that plays a role in vision, immune function and skin health.
You can use clothing wisely to avoid sun induced skin damage. Many clothing lines offer products with a SPF rating, or Sun Protection Factor. SPF numbers were introduced in 1962 to measure a sunscreen's effect against UVB rays. To determine a sunscreen's SPF, testers round up 20 sun-sensitive people and measure the amount of UV rays it takes them to burn without sunscreen. Then they redo the test with sunscreen. The "with sunscreen" number is divided by the "without sunscreen" number, and the result is rounded down to the nearest five. This is the SPF. SPF numbers start at 2 and have just recently reached 70. According to Discovery Health.com the formula goes like this:
Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time
For example, if you burn after 10 minutes of sun exposure, an SPF of 15 will allow you to be in the sun for up to 150 minutes without burning. But before you grab your calculator and head for the beach, you should know that this equation is not always accurate. People usually use far less sunscreen than the amount used in testing. In the real world, the average sun worshipper uses half the amount of sunscreen used in the laboratory, which could result in a sunburn in half the time. A hat or cap also keeps the sun off the very thin skin around your eyes which is particularly sensitive to photo-aging damage from the sun. However if you are looking for an additional level of protection beyond clothing then read on. Now it's true, that I'm not a fan of using sunscreens. Natural sunlight's potential to harm you has really been blown out of proportion. According to Dr. Mercola this is thanks to many doctors, health officials, advertisements, beauty experts, corporations, and well-meaning friends. They basically tell you that you need to stay out of the sun because the sun will kill you. This simply isn't true. For starters, there is little scientific evidence to justify the many health campaigns that urge you to completely avoid the sun. Avoiding the sun just doesn't make sense. In fact, the sun is healthy for you. Think about it. How could it be any other way? After all, your ancestors survived outdoors, working outside under the sun's rays far more often than they were indoors and out of the sun. This brings up an obvious question. How on earth would it be possible for your body to end up being configured in such a way that the sun is now a deadly threat to the entire human race? Like I said, it simply isn't true. That's not to say sunlight can't be harmful. Of course, it can be, for instance, long-term, excessive exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer. Yet moderate sun exposure is less dangerous than sporadic sun exposure. Plus, there's a good deal of evidence that sun exposure without sunburn significantly decreases the risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. So safe sun exposure is key.
Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths, UVA and UVB. It's important for you to understand the difference between them, and your risk factors from each. Consider UVB the "good guy". Though of course you can't de-select UVA if you're going to be in the sun. UVB helps your skin produce vitamin D. UVA is considered the "bad guy" because it penetrates your skin more deeply and causes more free radical damage. Not only that, but UVA rays are quite constant during all the hours of daylight throughout the entire year. By comparison, UVB waves are low in morning and evening and high at midday. So, if you're out early in the morning or late in the day, you get lots of UVA (bad guy) and not much UVB (good guy). Not a good way to produce vitamin D. Plus you increase your risk of cancer if that's your only sun intake, and you fail to protect your skin. What's more, have you ever gotten a scorching sunburn on a cloudy day? You think you don't need to protect yourself and you wind up being really sorry you didn't. That's the UVA rays at work. They can break through cloud cover and pollution and do some real damage your skin. Kind of a Catch 22. As you may know, wearing a sunscreen on your uncovered skin blocks your body's production of vitamin D. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9%. And interfering with your body's production of vitamin D by 97.5 to 99.9% may have dire health consequences. After all, vitamin D plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being. For example, this superb vitamin is known to:
- Support your cardiovascular health
- Promote optimal cholesterol levels
- Enhance your muscle strength
- Help produce optimal blood pressure levels
- Help maintain a healthy immune system
- Support healthy kidney function
- Promote healthy teeth
- Help keep your bones strong and healthy
- Essential in testosterone production
As soon as the sun's ultraviolet rays strike your skin, your body is programmed to do something remarkable. It starts producing its own natural vitamin D. Better yet, your body produces the most active form of vitamin D in existence, calciferol. Also known as vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is actually the precise form your body needs for the proper functioning of your organs and cells. Luckily for all of us, our bodies automatically generate enough of it with virtually no risk of overdose. They just know when to stop producing natural vitamin D before it can reach toxic levels. However, elevated vitamin D levels obtained strictly from oral supplements can take six months or longer to normalize.With natural sunlight, you may be wondering what precautions you need to take. So should you use a sunscreen to guard against sunburn? Absolutely! As much as you should steer clear of sunscreens because they interfere with natural vitamin D production, there is one critical exception. The exception is when it is impossible to limit full body exposure to sunlight. So if you can't limit your exposure for whatever reason, use a safe sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn. It is for your own good. Your risk of getting melanoma may increase in relationship to sunburn frequency and severity. Limiting sun exposure, wearing protective clothing, and using a 100% all-natural, non chemical sunscreen can reduce the risks of skin cancer and other harmful effects of the sun. Studies revealed that people who spend more time outdoors without getting sunburn, actually decrease their risk of developing melanoma. Now get this: Safe sunlight exposure has also been shown to protect against as many as sixteen different types of cancer, including breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and renal cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. So, yes, your body needs a bit of unprotected sun exposure. For all the benefits I've mentioned earlier. However, if you can't avoid the following three scenarios:
- You're forced to be in the direct rays of the sun for a longer time than is safe.
- You must go into intense sunlight one day without having the opportunity to gradually build up to it.
- You're in a situation where blocking the sun with strategic clothing or sunshades is impractical.
- Para amino benzoic acid
- Octyl salicyclate
- Padimate O
- Menthyl anthranilate
- Trolamine salicyclate
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