The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and mothers everywhere are slathering their children in sunblock! We are SO ready for summer!
Let's start with YOU! It's important to know YOUR personal threshold of sun tolerance. If you start turning pink in 10 minutes, make sure you have a mineral sunblock on hand to apply. Or put on a hat! Getting 10 minutes of unprotected sun is a GOOD THING for natural health, as long as your not turning pink.
How Much sun, is Too Much? Press your finger to your skin after 10 minutes of exposure & if you leave a white mark where you just pressed while the surrounding skin is pink, you're officially over exposed and it's time to grab some shade.
It's crucial that we get 10-15 minutes of unprotected sun each day. Sun exposure creates a chain reaction in the body producing natural of Vitamin D. The sun is the BEST source of Vitamin D production that you can get. It doesn't matter if it's Vitamin D3, a non-synthtic form- nothing compares to good ol' sunshine.
Relatively few foods naturally contain vitamin D, the most abundant being oily fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, or old-fashioned, cod liver oil. Because of limited natural sources, numerous foods, such as milk, are vitamin-D fortified. Pasteurized milk (as you may have read in a previous post of mine) is NOT a good source of Vitamin D. As a side post: If your going to drink milk- GO RAW!
Many scientists now believe we need 1,000 IU per day of vitamin D (IU = international units, a measure of vitamin potency) to avoid deficiency. For reference, a salmon serving contains about 360 IU, an egg 25 IU, and a tablespoon of cod liver oil 1300+ IU.
Carlsens Very Finest Fish Oils are one of my all time favorite supplements. They are the Fish and Cod Liver Oil Experts and they taste surprisingly good with a lightly lemon flavor.
In comparison, full-body sunbathing for a period of time that will just make you turn pink will produce 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D! Given such copious production, relatively casual sun exposure (arms, etc) should meet Vitamin-D needs.
Vitamin D is shown to prevent cancer, arthritis, MS, diabetes, high-blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and infections. In other words, it enhances overall wellness.
Deficiencies in of Vitamin D can lead to some very serious conditions so getting a quick-fix by way of the sun will make you feel better and get you that skin-produced injection of Vitamin D that we all so desperately need.
The last thing I'll say about sunscreen and then I swear I'll shut up is this: If you have children, don't slap any old thing you bought at the drug store on their skin. Do your homework, spend $5 more. You can buy anything online so their are few exuses if your reading this. With the laundry list of hormone disrupting, cancer causing, toxic chemicals that are in the vast majority of sun blocks today, we can't afford to sit back and let the body care companies define what it is to be "Natural".
There is a very established idea in this country that the sun is bad, sun will give you cancer- Well I ask you is the sun giving us cancer or is it the sunblocks with chemicals, exposure to toxins and polution in our environment?
Some might say that a chemical sunscreen is the lesser of two evils. "It's more important to be protected from the harmful rays of the sun and risk chemical exposure to the skin". With the reading I've done I beg to differ. Below are 3 common synthetic chemicals found in sunscreen widely sold in the U.S.
- Oxybenzone is particularly scary as it is readily absorbed through the skin and it acts as an estrogen in the body, disrupting hormone function in children and adults. Avoiding this ingredient in your children's sunscreen is extremely important to encourage proper hormonal development.
- Octocrylene is a synthetic UV blocker and absorptive substance. It's used in blocks over 30 SPF and is shown to produce excess reactive oxygen free radicals that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease. In layman's terms this means that on a cellular level you can see changes in the cells or mutations. Mutations in the cells are bad because cellular mutations can spur cancerous cellular activity. On top of all that, Octocrylene is cumulative in the human body, this means that over time it accumulates in your tissue, blood, organs etc. Remember lotions and creams we put on our skin enter the blood stream. Since the skin is the bodies largest organ, it should be regarded with the same care of a heart or a lung.
- Retinyl Palmitate (AKA Vitamin A) was shown in a recent federal government study that it may speed up the growth of skin tumors. How's that for a contradiction in terms? Sunscreen that gives you cancer! Vitamin A is an antioxidant but when it is exposed to sun it becomes a photocarcinogen. Good intentions, but it may actually have been driving up the deadliest of skin cancer for the last 20 years.
The above ingredients are 3 of many. Other commonly used synthetic sun block ingredients are Ocitnoxate, Homosalate, & Octisalate.
Body care companies use synthetic sunscreen ingredients and claim to be "natural". Brands like Kiss My Face, Alba and Jason are found in abundance at your local health food store or Whole Foods Market. Just because it's sold at Whole Foods doesn't make it safe for you and your family.
Look for a sunscreen that is a Mineral Block Only. Here's a helpful list for REALLY natural sunscreen products. I put them in the order of "natural-ness" for your convenience!
Badger Balm Badger SPF 15 Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen uses only Zinc Oxide as their mineralblock. They even took it a bit further and started using what's called "Non-Nano Particle Zinc Oxide". This simply means that the particles are above a certain size to limit the absorptive ability of this active ingredient through the skin. It's reasonably priced and all the other ingredients besides the Zinc are completely safe.This product is my first pick hands down. It will make your skin a little white but always apply to dry skin and you shouldn't have a problem.
SPF 15 & 30 available; around $12 on Vitacost.com
Aubrey Organics Natural Sun SPF 15 Active Lifestyle Tropical Scent is another high quality, efficacious company that has been doing a great job with "natural" since the 1970's. They have literally paved the way for companies like Badger Balm to make safe, effective, sustainable and conscientious products. They use Zinc Oxide for their blocks and remember Zinc Oxide is great because it blocks both UVA & UVB rays AND it doesn't penetrate the epidermis (skin layer). They also have a big emphasis on Organic Ingredients which I love. You gotta support Organics when possible because it's the only way to ensure safe food, body care, water and soil. Their sunscreens do apply a bit on the white side for my taste (especially the higher SPF 30) but without a doubt 100% natural.
$12.76 at Aubrey Organics Website
California Baby's No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30+ uses titanium dioxide as their mineral block. Although California Baby is more expensive than Badger Balm or Aubrey Organics, California baby does a nice job with sustainably produced ingredients and their sunscreens go on smoothly on dry skin. The main reason it's ranked number 3 is that I think it's far too expensive. Good brand, just a little pricey.
$19.99 at California Baby's Website
I hope this helps- now I'm going to go outside to get some Vitamin D! :)