There has been a lot of hype about sun exposure, skin health and vitamin D levels. Dermatologists claim that having direct sunlight on your skin can cause skin damage and cancer. Yes, long, harsh, excessive overexposure of sunlight onto skin can be damaging. However people fail to realise that healthy exposure of sunlight contributes to many important biological processes.
UVA and UVB radiation
There are two types of UV radiation from the sun, UVA and UVB. UVB has lower wavelength but higher energy than UVA. However even though this is the case it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the skin as UVA. This is because our epidermis absorbs UVB, whereas fails to absorb UVA as efficiently. This causes UVA to penetrate deep into our dermis and can cause skin damage and increase risk of wrinkles. UVA radiation is known to be responsible for modulating the immune system, whereas UVB is responsible in making vitamin D.
So how much sun do we need?
I would recommend getting the ‘dminder’ app to guiding you about sensible sun exposure. Melanin is skin pigment that acts as a natural sunscreen, absorbing UV light on skin. Our melanin will contribute to the ability to produce vitamin D. For those that have darker skin pigment, more sun exposure is required to produce the same amount on vitamin D than those with less melanin. It’s not recommended to spend hours in the sun with exposed skin, but enough time before you become red (put on some protective clothing to avoid excess exposure before this happens).
How Vitamin D can help your health
There has been a growing amount of research, which point to vitamin D being essential for optimal health. Some include:
- a major contributor to immune health. Autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS) have now been potentially linked with low vitamin D exposure.
- low vitamin D levels have also been linked to play a role in neurological disorders such as depression
- sunlight also assists with regulation of your circadian rhythm and increases melatonin as required
- sun exposure also helps produce nitric oxide on skin which may play a role in blood vessel dilation and possibly blood pressure
- may help with the pathogenesis and treatment of psoriasis due to immune modulation as well as regulation of keratinocyte growth.
It’s ironic how sunscreens have been pushed in preventing skin cancer. First of all the chemicals in these products are not only detrimental to health, but protection from the sun which assist’s in immune function is a risk for ill health anyway. These government campaigns are not education the public correctly. Roughly 19000 more people die from skin cancer every year than 30 years ago. People are getting sicker, our food supply is being filled with more preservatives and people still seem to believe what government campaigns are telling us. I say people need to start questioning claims put out by these corporations as I question whether the government is really looking out for our health.
At the end of the day you don’t want to burn the skin. Getting adequate and safe sun exposure in dependant of season of year, latitude and degree of skin pigmentation. For this reason downloading the app ‘dminder’ may be a great way to start to get more of an understanding of healthy sun exposure. I also recommend getting your vitamin D levels tested to get an idea of how much sun you may require. It’s about improving your health and vitamin D status, not abusing sun exposure and causing more damage to your health.
Post written for ‘The Beauty House’ website
* Disclaimer: My posts are not to be used to treat or diagnose health concerns and provided as information only. They should not be used as individualised treatment plans and programs. Contact your health professional to investigate what advice is best for you.