So, we all love a tan don’t we? A lazy day in the sunshine is heaven sent. A gorgeous healthy golden glow at the end of it.
It makes us look good. It makes us feel good. But is a tan healthy? Much like everything else health related the answer is often confusing.
In the end many of us simply panic and in manic mode we slap on the Factor 50 before we even leave the house. But maybe this is the worst thing we can do?
Ok. Breathe. Lets break it down.
The sun is a natural element. It is nature defined. We just need to work with it in a way that suits each of us individually.
Why do we need the sunshine hormone anyway?
Sunshine provide us with Vitamin D which experts now believe is actually a hormone and as such it plays a big role in our wellbeing. We have probably underestimated quite how much so.
Vitamin D aids Growth Development, Bones and Teeth whilst also strengthening Immunity, boosting Mood and protecting us from a host of illness’s. It is believed to also play a part in reducing Heart Disease and Autoimmune Disease and helping ease the symptoms of those who suffer.
Basically it does an awful lot and probably much more than we currently know. It is very important to our whole system and works intricately on many levels.
In ancestral times our exposure would have been quite high but today we fear the warnings of ‘burning’ and levels for many people have dropped low. As humans we were designed by nature to absorb Vitamin D through our skin and therefore it is not as readily available in food forms as other vitamins are. Although if you eat a good whole food diet you can benefit. But the truth is that soaking up those rays is the very best way to absorb Vitamin D.
In a move to satisfy both sides and protect themselves, many people have turned to supplements and whilst there is definitely a place for these (particularly in you live in areas which don’t have much sunshine all year round) it is important to work with a Nutritionalist to measure your levels as in this case too much can also be a bad thing.
Leading Functional Medicine expert Chris Kresser says “There’s no doubt that vitamin D is crucial. It affects over 3000 genes. It plays a really important role in a lot of different processes. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with numerous different diseases, so yes, we absolutely need to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D. But as is the case with many other nutrients, perhaps all nutrients, there is a U-shaped curve for vitamin D, which means too little of it is not good, but too much of it is also not good.”
Nature is highly intelligent – far more than any man. It usually knows best and should be adhered to. Through sunbathing we have more chance of getting the appropriate amount of Vitamin D as there is somewhat of a natural brake on absorbing too much through our skin which is not present if we simply take supplements.
It would seem that a good diet with safe sun exposure is the best way to retain this critical vitamin. As a side note, since I started eating a clean healthy diet my skin is much stronger and I don’t burn. I believe that when the body has the critical nutrients it needs it can protect much better in all areas.
The crucial factor is NOT TO BURN
Obviously we are all aware of the risks of skin cancer but despite the increasing use of sun tan lotion and awareness rates are not going down.
Perhaps the best thing to do is find what suits you best. Work with what you have and how you are made. We are all unique.
Know yourself as always.
If you are very pale or sensitive then be very careful and if you need sun lotion then please use it (*although please use a chemical free brand.) The best advise I have come across seems to be to build some tolerance slowly (if you can) and carefully but be very mindful of your own personal history and skin-tone. If 5-10 minutes bare in the sun is all you can manage then stick with this then put on a hat and move to the shade. But it is beneficial to catch some rays unprotected if possible and if there is no health risk.
If you are darker skinned you can likely tolerate soaking those rays ups much longer but always move to the shade BEFORE you burn.
Find your equlibrium in the sun.
Over time you will learn what is best for you. But before you fearfully slap on the Sun factor take a moment to feel if it is appropriate for you. Maybe a little time outdoors first could be better for your health?
As always let’s not stress out. A day at the beach should be one of the best summer days we can have. Have fun, laugh and play. Enjoy.
*Part 2: Why we should be using chemical free suntan lotions and fake tan.
Let me know whether you are a sun seeker? 🙂 Does it help you and make you feel better?