Let's Talk About Sun Baby

Like many other confusing topics that float around the “health arena”, sun exposure is one of them.  I thought about this recently while I was at the beach.   I could visually see on the beach how most of us (I was included in the majority years ago) don’t know the truth about sun and Vitamin D…So, let’s talk about sun baby!  (If your grew up in the early 90s listening to hip-hop, you may get this song reference!)    

First off, we must have sun exposure for our bodies to produce Vitamin D.  Vitamin D deficiency is a HUGE problem nowadays.  There are MANY health problems that have been linked to low levels of Vitamin D including:  Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, bone fractures, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, depression, chronic fatigue, insulin resistance, Autism, Parkinson’s, diabetes and even PMS.  The list goes on!  While I’m not saying that adequate levels of Vitamin D are the answer for preventing all the mentioned health issues, it is a very important piece of the puzzle.  Our health can’t be addressed with one aspect; there are many factors that need to work synergistically.  

I hear it all the time and it drives me crazy!  We are mistakenly advised and guided to avoid the sun at all costs and also to slather on sunscreen (which by the way most times are full of cancer-causing chemicals).  The mainstream advice is outright WRONG!  It’s a piece of the puzzle – why are we all sick and suffering?  There is so much information that we aren’t hearing.  So listen up!  Here are some vital sun & Vitamin D facts that will empower you:
 

  • Vitamin D is actually a sunlight-derived HORMONE. 
  • One of its major roles is to help us absorb and metabolize calcium in addition to help maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.  No wonder we are fracturing so many hips and bones – we don’t have enough Vitamin D!
  • The current Vitamin D ranges that are referenced in blood work results are way too low!  The optimal range is at LEAST 50 -70 ng/ml.
  • Food sources of Vitamin D3 include:
  1. Egg Yolks (one of the many reasons to eat LOTS of WHOLE eggs – no more lonely egg whites folks!)
  2. Fish – tuna, mackerel, sardines & salmon
  3. Cod Liver Oil (not from farmed cod)
  4. Raw Milk
  • Vitamin D can only be produced by the body with adequate levels of CHOLESTEROL because cholesterol is a pre-cursor to Vitamin D.  That’s right everyone!  This is one of the many reasons why we need LOTS of cholesterol and we should not be scared by “high” cholesterol (Trust me - the fat-cholesterol-heart disease theory is a MYTH – one of the many concepts that I work through with my clients).  Most foods that are good sources of cholesterol are also good sources of Vitamin D.  Nature intended this: nature produced these foods in this manner for a reason!  Can you see how the advice of a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet in addition to avoiding sun is super problematic and downright harmful?  
  • Vitamin D3 is the natural form; Vitamin D2 is the synthetic form.  If you are taking a Vitamin D supplement, make sure it is Vitamin D3.
  • There are 2 primary types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB.  The UVB rays (think B for beneficial) are the ones that will produce Vitamin D on our exposed skin, as long as Vitamin D’s buddy and pre-cursor, cholesterol, is running wild.   
  • There are even actual times of the day, depending on where you are in the country/world, that determine when UVB rays are most available.  For example, in my area here in Maryland, on June 15th, the UVB rays are only available between 9:20am and 3pm.  So, it was between those times that I made a point to sit outside without any sunscreen.  This is all really quite fascinating and important!  Check out the article here by Dr. Mercola that explains this in more detail.  In the article, there is also a link to the tool where you can determine your UVB timeframe depending on your location.  He also shares the importance of not washing your skin after soaking in the UVB rays.
  • Lastly, when you use sunscreen (which should be before and after the UVB timeframe as well as when you will be in any sun for a long or unexpected length of time), make sure you use a sunscreen without certain ingredients such oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC for short).  This is a big way where we go wrong.  Learn more here.  These chemicals are in many common sunscreens, including brands that I formally used (when I was uneducated about this) such as Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat.  A better brand that you can find in health food stores or online is Badger.  Also, Dr. Mercola has a natural sunscreen formula with all natural ingredients.  (Please note – I am not affiliated with Dr. Mercola in any way, I just like to recommend things that I personally use.  It’s a very natural sunscreen and I like it better than the Badger brand).  For more information, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide here for sunscreens without harmful ingredients.


Now that you have some Summer Smarts, you are well-prepared to enjoy this summer’s sun in all its glory.  Please spread this information to your loved ones by forwarding this information and sharing it on Facebook!  Feel free to comment below – share your thoughts on this!

2013 UPDATE

For those in the DC/Baltimore, MD area, I already did some work for you all by calculating the time frames in which UVB rays could generally be present in the next coming months. Make sure you read this full article to understand all this.  Here you go!

Around April 10th - 10:20am to 2:00pm

Around May 10th - 9:30am to 2:40pm

Around June 10th - 9:20am to 3:00pm

Around July 10th - 9:30am to 3:00pm

Around August 10th – 10:00am to 2:30pm

ALSO, there is now an app for your smart phone to help you calculate and monitor UVB ray exposure!  It's call dminder: http://www.dminder.info/#!theapp/csgz.

logan cox