Friday, July 9, 2010

Fun in the Sun

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have all learned to appreciate when the sun is out. And now that summer is fully upon, that means that we will be getting more and more sunshine. But don't let all of those sunscreen lotion commercials fool you, a little bit of unprotected sunlight for our skin is just what our bodies need.

That's right, it's OK to get some sun without putting on sunscreen. But just like everything else, in moderation. Of course you don't want to lie out in the sun for 6 hours without any protection! You may be wondering, doesn't the sunlight still hit your skin even when wearing sunscreen? It does, but sunscreen blocks the UVA and UVB rays that the sun emits, which is a good thing when you're out in the sun for multiple hours. But those UVA and UVB rays are what our bodies use to synthesize Vitamin D. And Vitamin D is essential for hundreds of different vital processes in our bodies every single second of the day from skin health to energy levels and many more. Therefore, it's not just OK to get some unblocked sun, it's crucial!

So, how much unprotected sun is enough without getting too much?

One rule of thumb is to get at least 15 minutes of unblocked sun on your completely bare legs, arms, and head. Now, I know that my skin can handle a little bit more sun than that, so I usually go at least a half an hour before putting on some sunscreen. It's your judgment call based on your history. Some people burn really fast, others don't seem to burn at all. Just remember, it's all about using common sense and don't forget, a little bit of unprotected sunshine goes a long way toward your overall health and wellness.

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