Proper sun exposure is essential for producing and storing Vitamin D. Supplementation alone is unlikely to provide you with optimal levels of Vitamin D.
Hi there, it’s Elaine Gardner, the founder of Design Your Healthy Life.com. Today’s topic is all about sun. If thinking about the sun immediately brings to mind fear of developing skin cancer and strikes fear in your heart, I completely understand that. But I do think that developing cancer is a very complex process and is much more complicated than just improper sun exposure. And I fear that our avoidance of the sun due to these fears, has really created some other significant health problems for us, one of them being vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is such a unique and interesting nutrient. While it is a vitamin, it is also a hormonal precursor. And while there’s boatloads of studies being done on vitamin D, I don’t think that it’s very well understood and that the information is hard and true and conclusive.
Vitamin D is necessary for so many functions of our body, and our fear of the sun is definitely increasing or contributing to a significant increase in vitamin D deficiency that we are experiencing. I myself have struggled with this issue and I think it’s a much more complex issue than the normal vitamin deficiencies. In my clinic when I see my private clients, we are able to correct vitamin A and vitamin B and vitamin C deficiencies very easily and quickly with whole food supplementation. And what I’ve seen over the years with vitamin D is that it works very differently and it’s much more complicated and difficult to effectively increase your vitamin D levels with supplementation alone. It takes a much more extended period of time as well, in order to get your levels to increase. My understanding from the vitamin D research that I follow, is that the type of vitamin D that you make through your skin when you’re exposed to the sun, is the kind of vitamin D that your body can actually store, whereas the kind that you supplement with works very differently in your body. So I do think that proper sun exposure is a really critical piece for many different health issues, but significantly an issue for getting proper vitamin D levels in your body.
I do know that sun exposure also increases my mood significantly as well. I imagine there are many other benefits to proper sun exposure as well, and they’re just not well documented. We’ve been focused on our fear of the sun and not going into that type of research, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in time, that research does come out. So I would encourage you to reconsider your sun exposure if you have had a fear in the past, and to start experimenting with unprotected sun exposure so that you can make the vitamin D that you need to, from exposing your skin to the sun. It has to be proper exposure, so it does have to be unprotected, meaning you can’t have sunscreen on. Sunscreen will block your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D in your skin. There is still obviously a risk of burning and I wish there were hard-and-fast rules and I could say, go out at this time of the day for this amount of minutes and you’re going to make all the vitamin D that you need. But I don’t think it’s that simple.
The strength of the sun varies during different times of the day, during different seasons, and of course depending on where you live and how close you are to the equator. And also, we all manufacture D at different levels according to the pigmentation in our skin. People with fairer skin like me make Vitamin D quicker and also burn quicker, so we need the sun exposure, but we need to make sure that we’re not out in the sun too long and get a sunburn, which is dangerous to your body. People with darker skin need more time in the sun in order to make the proper levels of vitamin D. So it’s definitely something that you need to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, again, according to the pigmentation of your skin, how quickly you burn, where you live, what time of the year it is, and how strong the sun is. So it’s not easy to figure that out of course, but it’s definitely worth your while to do so.
So I would encourage you to get outside and spend 5 minutes to start, if you’re really concerned about burning. As long as your skin doesn’t burn from 5 minutes, work your way up to 10 minutes, and then on and on… 15 minutes, 20 minutes… So you always need to be reevaluating that and be conscious of what’s going on with your skin. It’s really well worth the effort to do that. If you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, despite what color your skin is or what time of the year it is, it’s very wise to have some protective coating on after some unexposed time. So maybe 20 minutes without sunscreen, and then putting sunscreen on so that you don’t burn.
You do want to use something that’s non-toxic. Putting toxins on your skin will be absorbed into your body and can contribute to a whole other list of health problems, one of which can be cancer. Because toxins build up in the body, your body functions start to not work properly or malfunction, and then things like cancer start to develop. Again, cancer is a very complex issue in the body, so I’m not saying that sunscreen is going to cause cancer, but it can be a contributor, as many things are. So you definitely want to find something non-toxic, and if you read the product highlight section of the newsletter where this video was included, I’ll give you my tried-and-true favorite product. The Environmental Working Group has a wonderful Sunscreen Database that they publish every year, and it’s a great tool to help you find a non-toxic sunscreen so that you can protect yourself when you going to be in the sun for an extended period of time.
Also something that’s really overlooked is nutrients, which have many different functions in the body, and proper levels of nutrients also work in combination with vitamin D. No nutrient works in isolation. So having adequate levels of calcium and essential fatty acids takes the vitamin D that you manufacture in your skin through sun exposure, and moves it into the tissues of your body so that it’s available for use in the many different functions of your body. So eating a healthy diet is a great way to ensure you have those additional nutrients and sometimes supplementation as well. But there are many different forms of calcium and essential fatty acids, and not all of them are helpful. I think that’s a bit too much of a topic to cover in this short video, but if you want further information about that, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to go into detail with you. If you’re a current client in my private practice, let’s talk about that and I can actually muscle test you and help you figure those things out.
So I hope this information has been helpful for you today and that if you have a fear of the sun, you will start to reconsider that and understand how beneficial it can potentially be for you. If you haven’t been mindful about your sun exposure and you’ve been getting some sun burns or things like that, I hope this also helps you to reconsider that as well. The sun is definitely our friend, and we need to be careful about how we do it, but it is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. So as always, I want you to have the health that you deserve, so that you can live the life that you deserve.
I especially appreciate your suggestion on exposing oneself to the sun for five-minute increments to learn how much one’s body can tolerate. I believe in getting unprotected sun exposure, but I also have NO pigmentation, so I never really knew how to evaluate the benefits and risks of sun exposure. Thank you! Question: how much of the body has to be exposed to benefit fro the sun’s vitamin D effects?
What a wonderful question Carolyn! I think the more skin that is exposed, the more you will be able to make Vitamin D quickly. But anything is better than nothing, so I would go with what ever is comfortable for the temperature and situation you are in.