Part 1 written by By Dr. Michelle Hagel, ND 

Family Fun in the Summer Sun

Summer is almost upon us. The days are longer, the grass is green, flowers are blooming and we want to be outside soaking up the sun’s rays having some fun! The following two articles will give you some recreation activity ideas and a better understanding of safe suncare for you and your children. First, Dr. Hagel will talk about how to stay safe and healthy in the sun by looking at sunscreens and vitamin D absorption for adults and children. Then Lisa will give you a number of ideas and considerations on how to stay active with your family outside this summer. How many of us have gone on a family picnic, wondered what to do with the kids, sat around on lawnchairs and got a sunburn? Too easy to get stuck in that rut! Time to break free from that mindset, so read on.

Vitamin D and Sunscreen

Calgarians appreciate beautiful spring and summer days, after 7 almost 8 long months of cold weather, everyone is finally outside! As most of us are aware the sun is vitally important to our health and wellbeing. Sunshine produces Vitamin D, serotonin, dopamine and regulates our circadian rhythm ensuring quality sleep/wake cycles. When our retina perceives the sun our brain releases happy and calming neurotransmitters creating an instant mood boost. Exposure to the sun’s rays produces Vitamin D. The UV rays required to absorb vitamin D cannot penetrate glass, clothing or sunscreen. Exposure to sunlight in the winter if you live north of Atlanta Georgia is not sufficient to produce vitamin D. It requires 10 minutes in the summer midday sun for a fair individual with shorts and a t-shirt to produce 10,000IU of vitamin D, 6-10x longer is required for dark skin pigment.

Vitamin D is an incredible vitamin that is actually not a vitamin at all, but a hormone. The molecular structure of vitamin D make it a hormone, allowing it to be a part of many processes in the body. Vitamin D protects against osteoporosis, heart disease, breast, prostate and colon cancer, depression, insomnia and autoimmune disease. Vitamin D is also an important immune system booster, it is one of my favourite supplements to prevent or provide a quick recovery from seasonal illnesses. Being that vitamin D is so important and sunscreen actually prevents us from absorbing vitamin D, it is important to exercise sun safety while still ensuring that you are exposed to an adequate amount of sunlight.

Healthy Tips NW Calgary

I am not suggesting that you burn yourself trying to soak in some vitamin D, being safe in the sun is very important. Sunscreen for most is necessary during the hot summer months. However, it should be considered a last resort, first try covering up with shirts and hats. Try to plan around the peak UV times, going out in the morning or late afternoon. Seek some shade under a tree or bring an umbrella. But if you have to use sunscreen what should you use and what should you avoid?

UVB rays are the rays responsible for burning the skin if exposed for too long. UVA rays are the dangerous rays that cause damage to skin cells, leading to aging and skin cancer. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered two agents that are stable in sunlight offer protection from both UV rays without harsh additives. Ingredients to avoid are oxybenzone which can disrupt hormones as they act like estrogen in the body. Another ingredient to avoid is retinyl palmitate, which is a vitamin A derivative that can actually increase risk of skin cancer to sun-exposed skin. Spray on sunscreens do not have the efficacy that lotion sunscreens can offer that provide a layer of coating on the skin. There is also an increased risk that you will inhale the spray products.

So find a good quality sunscreen, don’t forget your shirt and hat and go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Get started on your journey to optimal health with Docere Wellness Centre. Contact us today!