In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I grew up avoiding sun exposure as much as possible. Having experienced several severe, blistering, peeling burns as a child, I had absolutely no desire to “lay out” in the sun and try to “get a tan” during my teen years and beyond.
But over the past few years, I’ve realized that the sun is actually vital to our health! After all, God made the sun. Would He put us under this magnificent star just to harm us? I don’t think so!
In fact, without sun exposure, we’re likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and is necessary for bone growth (source). Recent studies have also shown that maintaining proper vitamin D levels can help boost the immune system (source).
But most Americans are deficient in this vitamin. You see, it’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D solely through diet. The best food source is from certain fatty fish–but some people don’t even eat seafood (or enough to get the vitamin D they need) (source).
Image by Joe Shlabotnik
A few years ago my husband discovered he was vitamin D deficient. His doctor prescribed him heavy doses of vitamin D3 in an attempt to get his levels up to par. Then, right before I became pregnant last fall, I found out that I was vitamin D deficient as well and possibly was having thyroid problems. Vitamin D deficiency can actually be a precursor to thyroid disease (source).
My husband and I began taking about 5,000 IUs of vitamin D per day during the winter, and I’d give our girls up to 1,000 IUs per day. I still supplement us in the summer, but I cut down the number of IUs quite a bit to account for the best vitamin D we can get–straight from the sun.
Besides the benefits of vitamin D, sun exposure can also help improve mood (source).
Now what about sunscreen? Can we get the same benefits from the sun if we use sunscreen?
Image by mislav-m
Well, according to The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide:
“The same DNA-damaging, sunburn-causing UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block also do some good: They kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reaction that produces vitamin D. Research shows that many people have low vitamin D levels. There is a well-documented relationship between low vitamin D levels and poor bone health. Now links have been made to everything from multiple sclerosis to prostate cancer. “Linking” low vitamin D with these diseases doesn’t prove cause-and-effect, but it suggests that possibility.” (source)
Image by dougbelshaw
But what about skin cancer? What about those blistering burns I experienced as a child? How can we get the vitamin D we need from the sun–while not putting ourselves and our families at risk for skin cancer?
We’ll discuss that later this week…as we look at the risks of too much sun exposure…and how we can take advantage of the benefits while limiting our risks of harm.
Have you ever considered the benefits of sun exposure? Have you ever had your vitamin D levels checked to see if you are deficient and perhaps could benefit from more sun exposure?
*I have included an affiliate link in this post.
**Disclaimer: I am not in any way, shape or form a medical professional. I am simply a mom who loves to research. Please conduct your own research and consult with your trusted health professional before making any decisions regarding your health. This blog is for entertainment purposes only.
My son takes 1000IU/day of Vit. D3. He has really bad allergies and asthma and it helps to bolster his immune system. Since giving him his asthma meds and vitD he’s went from having at least 1 ER sending attack/month to 1 in the last YEAR! We also head outside early every morning for at least 15-20 minutes. We’re both fairly dark complected to begin with and I know I don’t burn. (I’ve never let him have an opportunity to even GET burned) I take 5000IU/day on top of my sun exposure. We started taking higher doses of VitD/sun exposure because of me going to the doctor for low VitD levels. And these are the methods he prescribed and my levels came up REALLY quick!
What an amazing story about your son’s asthma!! That is awesome! I really do think the vitamin D impacts our immune system. I was so glad to find out my levels, so I could do something about it!
Great stuff Erin! You should check this out too…http://younglivingoillady.com/home/coconut-oil-and-sun-protection/
Thanks for the link, Lauren!! I am going to have a roundup of “sun” posts around the web later in this series, and I will be sure to check this out for inclusion!! 🙂
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents
I will not lie – this stuff is always overwhelming to me. 🙂
Me too…baby step by baby step, right? I would have never thought of it until I had those thyroid issues comes up and I found out my levels were so low. Basically…I think a little bit of sun time without sunscreen (and I mean moderate for people like us who have fair skin!) with a good vitamin D3 supplement is my simple solution. No need to stress ourselves out about it!
Sara Shay @YourThrivingFamily
Love these last 2 posts. I just recently started making our own sunscreen, hubby is still skeptical of course. But quite often if we aren’t out for long we go without.
Thanks, Sara! I really wanted to make my own sunscreen this year, but I have enjoyed the natural ones I am reviewing so much that I have put it off until next summer! I think my hubby would be skeptical as well. 😉
Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy
I know we need to get more sun than we should. It’s the only reason I bring the boys outside during the day, because really, I’d much rather be inside myself! But I really try to get them outside every day to soak up the vit. D.
Anne, I think we are the same way. I am more of an inside person myself. I would have never even thought about it until my doc said I had low vitamin D levels…but I admit I haven’t been getting out as much in this heat while pregnant either.
I wholeheartedly agree. When I was growing up (not all that many years ago, really), my Mom sent us outside to play a lot. She never seemed to worry about putting sunscreen on us, so we don’t worry about it now. We were some of the healthiest children I know, even though we didn’t do everything totally healthy. (*gasp*, we used cream soup with MSG in it, ate things with preservatives in it, all our bread was WW, but it had HFCS in it. My Mom did the best she knew how and I look up to her for that). I honestly attribute our being outside so much to our health. Sure, we got colds on occasion, hardly ever had the flu or anything worse. I try to make sure my kids get plenty of sun exposure as well, though we unfortunately live in town vs. the farm where I grew up.
Sounds like you grew up with a very wise mother!
I definitely agree with getting some amount of sun exposure throughout the day. I also have become more convinced that some of the sunscreens have things that might be harming our skin, the biggest organ on our body. So, I’ve been looking into some more natural solutions to skin care.
I’m the same way!
I read on your other post that you gave the Kabana Skincare Green Screen Original D SPF 35 a go and see that you had positive comments about it. I have a few questions though:
will the amount of Vitamin D3 in that suncreen cause any type of overdose? It stays that there’s 400Iu per oz so a 4oz tube would have 1600IU.
Also, was it easy to wash off the sunscreen? Did you have to use make-up remover to get it off or did face wash work just fine?