Healthy Sun Exposure – It’s Your Best Source of Vitamin D! And A Recipe For Homemade, Non-Toxic Sunscreen
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, it is a potent maintenance and repair hormone, neurological hormone and epigenetic hormone influencer and it is responsible for regulating over 2000 genes in our body. Yes, that is right, some of our genes can be influenced by our environment, our nutrition and even our thoughts. Scientists have discovered that there are only about 3000 genes that differentiate us from animals and 2000 of these genes are regulated by Vitamin D! It is imperative to have a sufficient amount of Vitamin D to help us be disease free.
Benefits of Vitamin D
- It aids in weight control and can prevent obesity
- It counteracts hypertension and keeps our vascular system healthy
- It allows for the optimal absorption of calcium
- Deficiency of Vitamin D in women in childbearing years can be a factor in autism
- It helps with autoimmune diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Type I and Type II Diabetes
- Vitamin D acts as an antibiotic and increases antimicrobial proteins called peptides
- It helps to protect us from heart disease, tuberculosis, influenza, colds, etc.
- It slows down the aging process
- Vitamin D lowers inflammatory markers in the body
- Other benefits: It aids in the healing process of psoriasis, eczema, insomnia, hearing loss, periodontal disease, muscle pain, macular degeneration, asthma, depression, migraines, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and it aids in athletic performance. Vitamin D can help prevent preeclampsia and adequate levels are needed for fertility. Vitamin D has also been shown to help chemotherapy patients.
If you have a serious disease, you must look at your Vitamin D levels and strive to keep them optimal!
Did you know that sunlight therapy or heliotherapy was used in the past to treat autoimmune disease and infectious diseases? It has been documented that hospitals used to actually wheel patients out into the sunlight and give them a high fat diet to help absorb the Vitamin D to help heal their bodies!
Vitamin D and Cancer
The further north one is away from the equator, the higher the risk for breast, prostate, kidney and stomach cancer. How does Vitamin D protect us from cancer? It increases cellular differentiation. This means that the body can tell its own healthy cells from the unhealthy cells and it increases the death rate of the cancer cells and inhibits cancer cell growth. Vitamin D helps to decrease the invasiveness of the cancer cells to help decrease metastasis and because it is ant-inflammatory, it will decrease systemic inflammation which is a factor in disease.
How Do We Produce Vitamin D Naturally?
The sun’s rays have many spectrums of light. The most important are the ultraviolet rays called UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays increase our risk of skin cancer and UVB rays are used by the body to make Vitamin D. 95% of sunlight is made of UVA rays and only 5% is made up of UVB rays.
When we use sunscreen the UVB rays are blocked and the body will absorb the UVA rays which contribute to cancer and skin damage. So if you are using sunscreen, you won’t burn but you won’t make any Vitamin D either!
Our bodies have an amazing innate intelligence to make vitamin naturally. Did you know that feeding our body healthy foods protects our body from sunburn? (more on this in a moment!) Sunburns are very dangerous and can increase one’s risk for melanoma. There is no link between moderate sun exposure and skin cancer. What we need is a balance and to use sunscreen wisely and sparingly.
There are many factors that effect our ability to produce Vitamin D. Things such as latitude, skin pigmentation, how much of our skin is exposed, how much time we spend in the sun, diet, age, altitude, reflective surrounding surfaces such as water, the weather and even urban pollution which can block the rays of the sun.
Natural sunlight is the best way to produce our own Vitamin D. Supplements can be helpful but if you are going this route, it is imperative that you know your lab values. Excessive Vitamin D is toxic to the body and cause serious problems. The great thing about producing Vitamin D naturally, is that your body is able to safely store the excess Vitamin D as an inactive form and when you need it, it will convert it to the active from for your body to use throughout the year! Our bodies are so smart!
Critical Time Frame To Get The Max Amount Of UVB Rays
The best time of day to make Vitamin D is when the sun is directly over your head and when you have little or no shadow. In non-tropical northern regions it can be difficult to make Vitamin D because the sun is more at a 45 degree angle to the earth and it can be difficult to absorb the UVB rays.
If you have been outside exercising or sunbathing, it is recommended that you refrain from taking a shower for 30-45 minutes or even up to an hour later to absorb the Vitamin D that you have just manufactured. The Vitamin D that you just created does not immediately enter into your bloodstream and if you bathe too soon, you literally risk washing away the benefits of all of that beautiful sunshine!
Our skin is a direct highway to our blood stream. Many people think that the skin is a protective barrier, which it is to an extent, but it really is a trans-dermal delivery system to everything that comes in contact with it.
Many sunscreen are highly toxic. A great resource to check on the safety of your sunscreen as well as thousands of other products is an app called Think Dirty. Here you can search for safe sunscreen brands or even scan the bar code of your sunscreen to see if it is safe to use. Using a toxic sunscreen and blocking UVB rays is not a great combination. Did you know that sunscreen with an 8 SPF or lower will drop your Vitamin D production by 97.5% and that a SPF of 15 or more will reduce it by 99.9%? Yikes!
So How Do I Protect Myself From The Sun?
The best way to make Vitamin D is to expose yourself to the sun during peak hours when the sun is directly overhead until your skin becomes pink. When the skin turns pink, the body has had just enough sunlight. If 24 hours later you see that your skin is still pink, then reduce your exposure time by half of the time you previously spent in the sun. (Sunscreen turns off this natural protective mechanism to tell us when we have had enough.) Once you have gotten your dose of Vitamin D, then you should physically cover up with a long sleeve white top and a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. If you are going to use sunscreen, be sure to check the Think Dirty app for the safety of your sunscreen!
How A Poor Diet Prevents Us From Making Vitamin D and Other Obstacles
A diet full of processed food and foods with little nutrients will deplete the body of Vitamin D and make it very difficult to replenish Vitamin D stores. As we age our body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D will diminish and if we have darker pigmented skin, it will require longer periods of time in the sunshine to make enough Vitamin D.
Did you know that a person who sunburns easily may have a diet deficient in healthy fatty acids? A nutrient-dense whole food diet with the proper fat intake can help resist burning! A diet consisting of toxic oils, sugar, high amounts of carbohydrates and lacking anti-oxidant rich foods will effect how your body reacts to the sun and its ability to make Vitamin D, a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory hormone!
So what are the best food sources of Vitamin D? Here is a chart from The World’s Healthiest Foods Website.
|World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
|Sardines||3.20 oz||188.7||175.09||44||4.2||very good|
|Cow’s milk||4 oz||74.4||62.22||16||3.8||very good|
|Mushrooms, Shiitake||0.50 cup||40.6||20.30||5||2.2||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
|very good||DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
As you can see salmon really tops the chart. Vitamin D is also quite stable when cooked and the nutrition value is not significantly lost when using a low temperature cooking technique. Fried eggs can loose about 20% of their Vitamin D but if you poach them, the nutrient loss is only about 10%.
What are some good things to use if you do sunburn? 100% pure aloe, lavender essential oil mixed with a carrier oil, cucumber slices, apple cider vinegar applied to the area with a cotton ball, a washcloth soaked with green or black tea, witch hazel and even raw honey…but this could be quite messy!
What Are Optimal Therapeutic Levels of Vitamin D
This is what you want to look for in a 25 Hydroxy D blood test:
Deficient: <50 ng/ml
Optimal: 50-70 ng/ml
Treating Cancer & Heart Disease: 70-100 ng/ml
Excess: >100 ng/ml
Did you know that some foods have natural sunscreen? Coconut oil has a subtle SPF of 3-5. Red raspberry and carrot seed oil with a carrier oil have a SPF of 28-50! Zinc oxide can also be used as a safe barrier. Here is a recipe for a basic homemade sunscreen. Re-apply as needed and limit your sun exposure to your own healthy dose.
Basic Homemade Sunscreen
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil organic, cold pressed, extra virgin
- 2 tbsp Non-nano Zinc Oxide Powder
- 1 tbsp Red Raspberry Seed Oil
- 10 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil
Add all ingredients to your food processor.
Process until smooth and combined.
Scrape it out of the food processor and store in a jar.
Here are links for the above ingredients:
I hope that you found this post interesting and helpful as you get ready to enjoy the sun this spring and summer!
To You In Good Health,
If you want to address your health concerns and would like to find out how to reach your health goals and learn more about The RESTART® Program sugar detox group class, you can contact me here.
Disclaimer: I do not diagnose or treat disease, but instead make nutritional recommendations for balancing the body and promoting optimal wellness. Nutritional Therapy Practitioners are approved by the NTA as a certifying organization, but are not licensed or certified by any state. I am not, nor do I represent myself as a dietitian or nutritionist. This post does contain affiliate links.