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Sun (S)care and Skin Care This month I will cover an issue that is current, overloaded with conflicting information, and can benefit from common sense and a bit of sensibility.

The topic is sunscreens and Vitamin D.

Namely, doctors and scientists are becoming alarmed by overuse of sunscreens, with result of diminished production of Vitamin D. As you know, although Vitamin D, as most vitamins, can be obtained from food, even supplements, the main supply in our bodies comes from exposure to the Sun. Specifically the exposure to UV rays. We NEED this Vitamin D; without it serious health problems can occur. Cases of rickets in children who live in the southern States are on the rise,which would normally seem absurd. In Canada, during winter months we are likely not getting enough sunshine, with or without a sunscreen.

New research even points in the direction of Vitamin D, or one of its forms, preventing early stages of cancer transformation in cells. About 15-minute exposure to the Sun daily, WITHOUT sunscreen, is necessary for adults and children to get their dose of the vitamin. There are some indications that the best light for vitamin D production is actually mid-day.

Furthermore, with all the use of sunscreen in recent years, the number of skin cancer cases has not changed, certainly not very much. There are many factors that play a role when somebody gets cancer and others don't. Even a single life saved is a victory, but we need not create new health problems or risks – we all want and deserve a healthy long life and should treat that goal with utmost respect. It is generally accepted that the risk of skin cancer increases if a person has been overexposed to the sun over a prolonged period.Nobody could say for certain what this period would be for an individual person. And here comes our justifiably celebrated common sense - burning in the sun repeatedly and carelessly, simply can't be good. It won't help the anti-aging efforts either. Collagen fibres in the skin deteriorate much faster when exposed to light. On the other hand, if you don’t get enough light, you will suffer serious health consequences. Think that you can’t win? Moderation can actually do wonders.

Not stepping outside without a sunscreen (unless you have a health problem that demands this) is exaggerated concern, and it could adversely affect your health - you are much better off getting vitamin D from the Sun on your skin than from a pill.

Eating well, as always, is a road to better health. In addition, there are new trends that draw attention to actual foods having sun-protecting properties. What that means is that they will protect from burning and the damaging effects of the sunrays.

Red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, leafy greens - broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic (garlic also great for reducing inflammation) tomatoes, tomato sauce, bright colored veggies and fruits like melons, apricots, berries, etc.....

Tart cherries and peppermint leaves are rich in perillyl alcohol, recently found to stop cancer formation in human cells under intense UV light.

Green tea contains antioxidants called EGCGs, which blocked DNA damage in light-exposed human skin cells at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Oranges, lemons, and limes have limonene, linked to a 34 percent reduction in skin cancer risk among 470 people in a University of Arizona study.

Wild salmon is a safe source of fish oils, which protected 42 people in a British study from UV-induced sunburn and cancerous DNA changes. (Some of this information was clipped from an article on the Net)

Eat Your Sunscreen is perhaps the next big thing.

It is fair to say that these issues, as most health issues, are extremely complex. To make things more complicated - we are all different. The way I react is not likely going to be similar to the reactions any of you will have.

I have been asked many times why I don't make a sunscreen. The reason is very practical - regulations over SPF have made it rather expensive to market a product in the market that is already oversaturated. I will eventually make
one, have compiled some information on plant extracts that I can use in my experimentations, and look forward to the time when I can take on that challenge.

In the meantime, I never put sunscreen for going outside to run errands or for short walks, wear a hat if I am outside longer, and use sunscreen only if I'll spend hours in the sun. I am fair-skinned and haven't burnt in years. (Although I did notice that if I am in the sun too long, I'll burn regardless of sunscreen. So, I choose the shade after a while). The creams I make contain naturally sun-screening agents, like Shea butter, Beeswax, plus vitamins, and this protection is small but possibly sufficient. I am not claiming that to be so, I really don't know, but eating healthy and using quality products does many good things for you.

And to dispel one more of the beauty myths - if you are prone to or suffer from hyper-pigmentation, sunscreen will not save you from getting more dark spots. Any exposure to the Sun will be enough for them to form, unless you have a physical barrier between the skin and the light. Sun Spot is the totally herbal product that I make for dark spots. It is safe, without any chemicals, and it has given very good results.

Here are few links if you are interested in reading a bit more on the subject, but there is much more on the Web:

http://www.bupa.co.uk/health_information/html/health_news/261103vitd.html
http://sunlightandvitamind.com/
http://www.cure-guide.com/Natural_Health_Newsletter/Vitamin_D/vitamin_d.html

Enjoy the wonderful days of summer..

To your beauty and health,

Ivana K.

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