For about the last 30 or so years, doctors (dermatologists in particular) have repeatedly told us that sun exposure is bad for us and causes cancer. But is that true? In the last few years, numerous studies have shown that modest exposure to sunlight may actually be good for you, helping the body produce the vitamin D it needs for good health and disease prevention. The list of diseases associated with Vit D deficiency is huge and now there is tons of research documenting it. It is not only good for your bones, but for all the organ systems and it protects against most of the common cancers, including skin cancer. Though repeated sunburns–in children and very fair-skinned people–have been linked to melanoma, there is no credible scientific evidence that moderate sun exposure causes it. Since it’s difficult to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food alone, sun is your best source. I’m not suggesting you go bake in the sun with your suntan oil or go to tanning salons. But getting some sun without getting sunburned makes healthy sense.
The key is balance. Too much sun exposure can cause melanoma and skin aging, while too little creates an inadequate production of vitamin D. The amount needed depends on the season, time of day, where you live, skin pigmentation and other factors. As a general rule, 20-30 minutes a day on your face and arms without sunscreen is adequate.
Please remember that even a mild sunscreen shuts down your body’s production of vitamin D.
We evolved in the sun; we were made to get some sun, not to live our lives indoors and slather on sunscreen every time we go outside. Talk about a free natural treatment! All you need is a little common sense when heading outdoors. That is, do it gradually and always avoid sunburn. If the sun is shining where you are today, get out and enjoy it, and “let the sun shine in!”
Special Note: Remember to take antioxidants when you sit in the sun, as these can help prevent skin cells from sun damage. If you are scared to go in the sun, please make sure you take adequate amounts of Vit D supplements, which is at least 2,000 units for most people.