Sun Exposure: Good or Bad?

We’ve all heard the horrors of what too much sun exposure can do to our skin …The wrinkles, the freckles, the sunspots, sunburn and three types of skin cancer!

But on the other hand, there is good & bad in not getting enough vitamin D.
…Oh wait, it also turns out getting sunshine may have an anti-cancer effect. Confused? You are not the only one!



So, how much is too much?

Usually anything over about 15 minutes. A more accurate way to gauge how much sun you should get is to look at your skin. If the sun caused your skin to TURN PINK, then you definitely got too much! Over exposure and damage caused by UV rays in sunlight cause skin cancer. More people die of skin cancer each year in the UK than in Australia, and rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer.
Sometimes, we wear sunscreen and are totally mystified by the fact that we still turned pink, or worse, got sunburn. How does this happen? It’s most likely because we used the wrong sunscreen, didn’t apply it correctly, or both.


Why do I need Vitamin D and will I get it if I wear sunscreen?

Vitamin D helps the metabolism of calcium in the body, so it is essential for healthy bones and teeth. New research has also discovered that vitamin D is essential for a whole range of metabolic processes and protects against many forms of cancer, as well as reducing the risk of Multiple Sclerosis and diabetes.
US scientists reporting in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that pale-skinned women with high levels of sun exposure halved their risk of developing advanced breast cancer compared to those with low sun exposure.
If you wear the correct sun protection then you will not get vitamin D from the suns rays. It is likely you will recently have heard of children developing vitamin D deficiency diseases (e.g. rickets). This is because they are kept inside, out of the sunshine or are lathered up with sunscreen at every opportunity by well meaning parents.


I have Sunscreen left over from last year…

This is a common scenario and many of us have sunscreen left over from summers past. In an attempt to be frugal, we keep using that same old bottle until it’s gone….just like we do with make-up! In both cases, however, it’s healthiest to throw away old sunscreen and old make-up, even though it hurts to waste.

So get yourself a brand new bottle of sunscreen. Paying close attention to the label & look for a “BROAD SPECTRUM” sunscreen, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Also read the label for length of effectiveness.


So how much sun do I need and doesn’t the sun age your skin?

You don’t need to stay in the sun for long to build up vitamin D stores in the body. For most of us, 10 minutes a day during the summer months wearing normal clothes – exposing just a bit of leg and arm is enough.
Some people are concerned about the aging effects sun has on the skin…with good reason. That’s why when you get your sun, just get it on parts OTHER than your face. Sunscreen on the face is always a good idea.
However, as we get older our skin becomes less efficient at making vitamin D, so government guidelines recommend that everyone over the age of 65 take a 10mcg vitamin D supplement every day.
Supplements are also recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.


Take Home Message

“Dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight”,
Dr Richard Weller, Edinburgh University.

…there are also very few foods which naturally contain vitamin D and it is almost impossible to get all the vitamin D that you need from your diet.
No one should underestimate the danger of too much sun exposure and you should be checking your body for changes in the appearance of existing moles and any new skin lesions. If in doubt, get it checked out!
It is possible to get the best of both worlds ….enjoy the sun safely: use sunscreens and appropriate clothing; and avoid being out in the sun when it is at its highest (11am-3pm).
REMEMBER: The amount of sun needed to make enough vitamin D is always less than the high amounts that cause tanning or sunburn.






Vitamin D and Spinal Health

New research suggests there may be a link between the body’s vitamin D levels and spinal health…


Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Sufficiency

Full article on the controversy of sun exposure…


Exposure to Sun Poses Risk of Skin Cancer even in the Dark

Moving immediately into the shade does not stop sun damage as UV rays can continue damaging skin cells hours after exposure…


Quarter of Sun Exposed Skin Samples had DNA Mutations

“More than a quarter of a middle-aged person’s skin may have already made the first steps towards cancer.”…



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R. Singh
38 Years Old
High Wycombe

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