Every year, about 30-50 people ask me about sunscreen. Patients, friends, clients…every single year, I am bombarded around mid-June with questions of “safely” enjoying summer.
My answers emerge from several places: clinical knowledge, excellent quality supplements, my own personal experience, and evidence from others I know who have tried the same things.
First, let me expel a myth: the Sun is NOT the enemy. Your ancestors, somewhere down the line, lived in not much clothing, outside a whole lot. We are meant to be in the sun. And yes, the ozone layer is thinning. But the REAL issue is that we lack the nutrients needed to properly metabolize sunlight into vitamin D, and we live in boxes, in clothes, so we don’t build up gradual resistance to sunlight which prevents burning. Don’t blame the poor ol’ sun. Blame the modern lifestyle.
The reason we burn, and the ONLY reason we burn, is that our blood levels of calcium become depleted. This can be dangerous; we need calcium for our heart to pump properly, and for nerves to fire appropriately. The body, therefore, has a great way of telling us that it’s getting low on calcium: our skin turns red. If you are burning, it’s already too late: you need to get out of the sun, drink a ton of water, and take a bunch of calcium to replenish (which will actually help you metabolize the burn very quickly) over the next few hours. Or, you can stay ahead of things, by taking a bunch of calcium before you go out, and taking smaller doses while in the sun, periodically.
And a word on nutritional supplements…they are NOT all created equal. The calcium you purchase at a drugstore is mostly crap. The FDA doesn’t regulate supplementation, so you need to do your homework. Find a doctor who carries Standard Process supplements, ideally. Not only are the supplements extremely clean, but they are all food-based, so the body has no problem digesting them.
So here’s my best answers for 2015:
Natural sunscreen, if you must: Coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter all have natural SPF. Apply them before you go out and let them soak in. But ALSO take your vitis:
Calcium lactate specifically, is the best calcium you can get into your body. It’s highly bio-available, and it’s very clean, so if you take more than necessary your body will simply excrete it, not turn it into kidney stones.
You need to take at least 250 mg about 30 minutes before you go outside. Throw it in your bag and take another full dose (or a little less, if you like) about every 60-90 minutes. You need to be practical about this part. If you are extremely fair and prone to burning, take a full dose, every hour. And, don’t go out in the middle of the day when you are building a base tan. We need to build gradually, and carefully.
A diet high in dark colored fruits and vegetables will also help your skin build natural tolerance to the sun. There’s also calcium and other skin friendly vitamins in these foods (vit A and C specifically).
Hydrate…a lot. We have talked about this. Drink water. It’s important.
Don’t spend hours of time in intense sunlight, unless you are protected and hydrated. You still need to be smart about this!
Vitamin D and sunlight are essential for good health and well-being. Be aware and careful, but enjoy yourself! I hope this information helps!
Until the next….