Marketers want us to fear the sun to increase product sales. Yet, healthy sun exposure will help to increase vitamin D levels and rebalance us hormonally. For extended sun exposure, we need a safe brand that does not contain any endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
In my advertising days I used to work as a strategic planner on many Fortune 500 brands, including Neutrogena. One of the things we do as advertisers is to make consumers take action. Instilling fear is one of them. In the Neutrogena sunblock category’s case (as in the case of many other brands), making you frantically afraid of the sun was my job. I totally believed it then – after all, skin cancer is a real concern.
This is until I started doing this work. Did you know:
- Australians are the highest users of sunblocks, yet they have the highest number of skin cancers in the world per capita. They also happen to have 87% of vitamin D deficiency (source *). What’s going on? Turns out, according to research, vitamin D deficiency is now rampant globally; we are talking 70% of white Caucasians and 96% (!) of African Americans being vitamin D deficient.
- Vitamin D is a hormone that is required for calcium and magnesium to be absorbed. Deficiency in vitamin D will not help your bones get stronger even if you are taking calcium supplements, which sadly, most people do without magnesium and good quality fats (from food) and their vitamin D levels are below 60.
Importance of vitamin D in hormonal imbalance in women.
What most people don’t realize is that vitamin D is a precursor hormone for a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol which is critical in bone strength and cell renewal (in other words: slowing down the aging process). Vitamin D also activates our immune system (which can manifest as hives, allergies, frequent colds or an autoimmune condition), prevents cancer and protects our nervous system.
Simply put, being deficient means trouble in the longer term; the symptoms are subtle and the effects can be big. In fact, we are talking about being vitamin D deficiency being the contributing factor to autoimmune disorders (Hashimoto’s, lupus, fibromyalgia), skin cancer, depression, hair loss – and the list goes on.
Yes, you do need vitamin D supplementation (D3, remember, not D2) because it’s hard to get it from food (best sources are lard and yogurt), but are we not an over-supplemented nation as it is? It’s time to get vitamin D naturally.
So? Here is your to-do list for the next 2 weeks:
- Self-test if you are vitamin D deficient (see below)
- Get 30min (or till your skin turns pink) sun not just on your face but on your legs and arms. Your face is only 9% of your body. Arms are 18%, tummy 18%, back 18% and legs are 36%. So, I say: dress down and hit the sun.
A quick and simple comparison for you: you get 400 units of vitamin D from a glass of fortified milk (which no adult should be drinking) versus 20,000 units of Vit from 30 min of unprotected sun exposure (or till your skin turns slightly pink). Vitamin D is created by your skin when exposed to the sun.
Sun causes skin cancer?
So what about skin cancer? For more education on this topic and how sun exposure actually prevents skin cancer, I recommend reading Dr Mercola’s article here. On a more common sense note (which is my forte), think about it: most native tribes in Asia, Africa etc know no sunblocks. Yet, skin cancer has never been an issue there. How is that?
Many sunblocks can be serious endocrine disruptors causing hormonal imbalances
I’m not saying do not use sunblock at all. Do so but after getting some 30 minutes (or till lightly pink) of loving from the sun. It’s summer now for those in the Northern Hemisphere; this is your vitamin D moment. The Universe’s gift to you. Come fall and winter, we will talk about supplements and vitamin D-rich foods. For now, happy basking.
So, which sunblocks are good? My favorite and trusted go-to source will always be the Environment Working Group aka EWG, an independent and not-for-profit research organization. They have an updated section for sunscreen brands in 2014 right here.
For some quick tips, I extracted a few of them here:
- ONLY these two minerals: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide should be “active” ingredients in the product.
- No retinyl palmitate (synthetic Vitamin A).
- No parabens, synthetic or unlabeled “fragrances” – that’s a general rule for all body products.
- If you can NOT pronounce the other ingredients, don’t buy it.
What brands to buy? You have two options:
- Go to the EWG Sunscreen section to check the toxic load of your usual sunscreen and recommended brands if you are planning to try a new one. Heads up: all large brands you see advertised in magazines and TV will not cut the mark.
- Read recommended review done by one diligent consumer right here.(scroll of the bottom for recommended brands).
I buried my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer (had bottles of them) a few years ago – it just had too much toxicity in it. Moving to Kabana (you can get it too right here).
And, don’t forget to get your 20 minutes of sun before you slap anything on, to replenish your vitamin D levels.
Thank goodness picking a bikini is a little simpler….
More on vitamin D from the “father of vitamin D”
Here’s an overview taken from an interview with Dr. Michael Holick, aka the “father of vitamin D”.
- Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.
- The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don’t generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
- It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.
- A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
- The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
- People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That’s why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men — it’s a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
- Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
- Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body’s bones and nervous system.
- Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreen products actually cause disease — by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
- It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure: your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs.
- If it hurts to press firmly on your sternum, you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now.
- Vitamin D is “activated” in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used.
- Having kidney disease or liver damage can greatly impair your body’s ability to activate circulating vitamin D.
- The sunscreen industry doesn’t want you to know that your body actually needs sunlight exposure because that realization would mean lower sales of sunscreen products.
- Even though vitamin D is one of the most powerful healing chemicals in your body, your body makes it absolutely free. No prescription required.
Credit: Natural News
How to self-test for vitamin D deficiency.
Take this test and see how many are you ticking “yes”
- I rarely go out in the sun
- I put on sunblock before I leave the house
- My clothes cover most of my body
- I live above 35 degrees latitude in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere (in other words north of Atlanta and LA or south of Sydney-Australia, Santiago-Chile or Buenos Aires-Argentina)
- I do not take a vitamin D supplement
- I do not eat wild, oily fish (salmon, mackarel, herring, sardines) two or three times a week
- I do not eat a lot of mushrooms
- I drink fewer than 10 glasses of fortified milk or orange juice a day
- I’m dark skinned
- I’m older than 60
- I’m younger than 20
- I’m overweight and carry significant fat
- When I press firmly on my sternum (breastbone around your heart), it hurts
- When I press firmly on my shins, it hurts
- I feel less energy and muscle strength than I should
- I’m depressed
- I have an autoimmune disorder (like Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Celiac’s, etc)
If you checked more than 3 of the above boxes, there is a high chance you are vitamin D deficient (source *). You can easily get a blood test done to confirm it. For people with Hashimoto’s Disease (and any autoimmune conditions) it’s very very important for your vitamin D levels to be in the upper ranges of 60.
Be a child of the sun.
*Source: Dr. Michael Holick, “The Vitamin D Solution”
I love the outdoors but but in recent years I’ve begun to break out in itchy hives every time I go out in the sun. Its miserable and I feel like a hermit. What do I do?