9 Tips To Make Your Summer Sun-Safe
Better Nutrition|July 2019
9 Tips To Make Your Summer Sun-Safe

We have the clear-cut prescription for sun protection— use the right sunscreens, eat more skin-friendly foods, and safeguard your body with key supplements

Love—and fear—the sun? Welcome to the club: we’re all confused. In a survey by the American Academy of Dermatology, 75 percent of Americans said they would do anything possible to prevent skin cancer. Yet fewer than half of Americans use sunscreen regularly. And sunscreen may not be the panacea we’d hoped. While the use of sunscreens and blocks has increased dramatically since the 1980s, skin cancer rates are higher than ever.

Some researchers suggest that we’ve gone too far in fearing the sun. While it’s true that overexposure to the sun can damage the eyes, contribute to premature aging, and increase the risk of skin cancer, a healthy dose of sunlight also enhances overall mood and promotes the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that improves sleep and slows the aging process.

Sun exposure also prompts the body to produce vitamin D, which supports immune function, maintains healthy bones, enhances cardiovascular health, and protects against cancer. But sunscreens can reduce the body’s production of vitamin D by as much as 99 percent, and some studies suggest that by diminishing vitamin D levels, sunscreens are ironically increasing skin cancer risk. Moreover, studies show that vitamin D supplements aren’t a substitute for vitamin D produced by the body in response to sunlight. And while the American Academy of Dermatology says there’s no safe exposure to the sun, some researchers say that the benefits of natural vitamin D are so great that “the message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure.” In general, you’ll need 15–30 minutes of midday sun several times a week to ensure for the body’s vitamin D needs.

How to optimize vitamin D levels and the benefits of the sun, while minimizing aging, skin damage, and cancer risk? Try these nine easy ways to make your summer sun-safe:

1 DON’T BARE IT ALL.

To protect your skin, skip the skimpy bikini and choose lightweight coverups that help filter sun’s damaging rays. UPF (ultraviolet protection factor)-rated clothing is ideal, especially if you’re engaged in summer sports or spending time in the water. Or choose simple clothing in bright colors. In general, the darker or more vivid the color, the greater the protection, but even light-colored fabrics can minimize burns. And wear a hat; a big, wide-brimmed one protects face, neck, and eyes.

2 SHIELD YOUR EYES.

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July 2019