Vitamin D vs. Sunscreen

sunscreenIt’s July… a.k.a. hot, sunny, and the perfect time to dip in the pool. Growing up as a kid (okay, now too), I did NOT want to put sunscreen on. Even my own brother would try to rationalize with me and tell me how much I needed to put it on or I would turn into a lobster (which usually happened). My dad would even chase me and make me put it on. I’d like to say I’ve changed… but I’m still not a huge fan.

I know there are probably a hundred moms out there shaking their heads and fingers at me right now saying that I need to put my sun screen on or I’ll be sorry (and my dad too if he is reading this), but hang with me. Was it my intuition on the toxins in the sunscreen or just plain stubbornness? … maybe a little of both. :)

With new studies coming out every year regarding increases in skin cancer AND vitamin D deficiencies what’s a girl to do?

We can’t have our cake and eat it too…. Or can we?

Check out the Vitamin D vs. Sunscreen article below as they duke it out…pick up some knowledge, learn where you can find the safest sunscreens, and how your diet can change susceptibility to UV ray damage (say what?).

Spending time in the sun isn’t a new phenomenon… but sunscreen is (commercial varieties were invented in the 1930s to be exact). Most companies and dermatologists promote sunscreen as a way to reduce skin cancer, but in fact, recently, an increase in melanoma (skin cancer) has been shown to directly increase with the use of sunscreen (see AOL article here)… We keep buying more sunscreen and yet the cancer rates keep going up. So obviously it’s not doing us much good in that area. Is it the sunscreen? Is it the sun? Is it our diets?

Sunscreens come in all shapes, sizes, and numbers – SPF 100, SPR 4, spray, gel, cream, etc. Almost all of these are loaded with chemicals (which can disrupt hormone balance and promote cancer) and new super ingredients like Vitamin A to combat aging of the skin. Welp… news here… Vitamin A may help on the outside for wrinkles but it actually speeds the growth of tumors on the inside when applied topically .

Now, onto the D word (or letter)…

Vitamin D deficiency is gaining more momentum in western cultures and is connected to auto-immune disorders, osteoporosis, diabetes, digestive issues, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, cancer, depression and anxiety (just to name a few). What’s interesting is that this brief list comprises some of the most common health ailments we have going on in our country. Hmmm….

Many people have started to take supplements or eat foods fortified with Vitamin D to combat this issue. Some of this is good, but why not get the most natural and abundant source available for free? (If you are going to take a supplement, Vit D3 is the best option in my opinion).

What did my good buddy Albert Einstein say…”Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Not only does this apply to our sunscreen use and supplementation of Vitamin D, but also to WAY too many other health and wellness issues (most posts on that coming…).

So what can we do with all this good/bad news? Here are some simple tips to get you started…

Some of these are not new concepts by any means, but some of them make rock your world (okay maybe just give it a little bump).

1. Drink & Eat your sunscreen – Eating foods super-rich in antioxidants actually protects your skin! UV radiation increases free-radicals in the body (aka skin cancer) while anti-oxidants are the perfect antidote as they counteract those negative little guys. Plus, we get the added bonus of anti-oxidants protecting us from cancer (and fighting against it) and other chronic diseases. What kinds of foods might we aim for…

  • Blueberries
  • Goji berries
  • ALL berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • Avocados
  • Aloe Vera Juice/pulp (drink it!)
  • Raw cacao
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flax seeds/oil
  • Spinach
  • Almost all spices and herbs
  • Acai
  • Ginger Root
  • Raw Honey

For a smoothie that kung-pow kicks free radicals… check out the chocolate covered blueberry smoothie below.

2. Get 20 minutes in the sun! – This is the amount of time we need to get our daily vitamin D dose that allows us to actually absorb calcium and phosphorus (helping bones, teeth, and nervous system). Remember to eat your greens as well, as we need magnesium to convert the vitamin D!

3. Go Kentucky Derby On Me – Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing and a hat during the middle of the day (when sun has the most damage).

4. Choose your sunscreen lotion (very) wisely – I can’t emphasize this one enough! I get it. There are going to be days where you need to or even want to spend more than 20 minutes in the sun. So, use a sunscreen every now and then BUT choose one based on the ingredients and toxic load. We don’t want to be messing with our hormones and increase our chance of cancer… not to mention our kids.

Environmental Working Group Skin Deep is a great resource to check the toxicity of your sunscreen as well as most other cosmetics you can purchase. Tip: “All Natural” does not mean it’s safe. There aren’t many “safe” rated sunscreens out there… so pick your poison, cough, I mean sun-shield. :)

As for me, blueberries & sunshine or tumors… hmm, I’ll take the blueberries.

RECIPE: Chocolate Covered Blueberry Smoothie

1 c. almond or coconut milk
1 c. frozen blueberries
2 T. goji berries
1 T. raw cacao powder
1 T. raw honey
1 T. flax seeds
1 T. hemp seeds (optional – this will add an earthy flavor)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
stevia to taste

Directions: Blend, blend, blend! :) Add more milk or ice to change consistency and temperature.

Note: These make for amazing summer Popsicles. Add an extra 1/2 cup of coconut milk for extra creaminess, put in a mold, freeze and enjoy!

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