Sunshine is amazing… it provides warmth, elevates our mood and supplies a dose of vitamin D. There is no doubt that the sun is vital to life on earth.

However, as with most things in life, moderation is the key. Just as sunshine provides many benefits, there are various reasons why basking in the sun for extended periods of time is not a smart choice.

When considering the role of sunshine in your health, there is a balance that needs to be maintained.

UV radiation is naturally produced by the sun. The two main rays of sunshine are UVA and UVB.

UVA is associated with skin aging and UVB is associated with skin burning. Although both can harm the skin, UVA is considered more harmful than UVB as it penetrates the deeper layers of the skin than UVB rays.

Although a larger percentage of UVA reaches our earth it is UVB that helps with the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium, which helps create better bones.

To obtain all the positive benefits of sunshine, 20 to 30 minutes a day is sufficient for most. However, you do need to practice caution in how much sun exposure you get daily.

Sunshine

UV exposure is a powerful attack on the skin and excessive sun exposure creates damage that can range from premature wrinkles to dangerous skin cancer. When getting your daily dose of vitamin D from sunshine, consider these points so you can enjoy the sun safely…


Stay hydrated

Your body is made up of a large percentage of water and that water needs to be replenished often. Staying hydrated when enjoying the sunshine is even more crucial, as you will lose more fluids through sweating.


Use sunscreen

Experts recommend at least SPF 15 daily and SPF 30 for extended exposure to sunshine. SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of the sun, SPF 25 blocks 96%, SPF 30 97% and SPF 50 blocks approximately 98%.

Note: If you believe that SPF creams are not beneficial and prefer to go out into the sun unprotected (not recommended), consider at least using SPF protection on the areas that tend to be most exposed and prone to ageing, e.g. your face, neck, chest and hands.

Additionally, especially for darker skins, also consider your elbows and knees when enjoying the sunshine. These areas can be naturally darker than the rest of your body and using SPF creams on these two areas can prevent them from darkening further and looking different from the rest of your skin tone.


Consider the time of day when going out

The midday sun is at its strongest, which results in the highest levels of UVB being emitted. This could mean having to stay less time in the sunshine for the same benefit.

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Degree of cloud cover

The cloudier it is the longer it will take to get the benefits of UVB rays but you can still suffer from skin damage by the harmful UVA rays, which can penetrate the clouds. Also, UVA can reach below the water’s surface and UVB risks are intensified by reflective surfaces like snow and ice.


Windows significantly reduce UVB rays

UVB rays assist with vitamin D production, so it is best not to depend on sitting near a window for your source of daily vitamin D from sunshine.


The amount of skin exposed

The more skin exposed to sunshine, the less time it will take to acquire the benefits of the sun as you are receiving the UV rays on a larger surface area of your body.


Darker skin tones

Darker skins may require more time to get the same benefit from the sunshine due to the higher level of melanin produced in darker skin tones because melanin acts as a natural protector of the skin from the sun’s UV rays.

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People with kidney or liver diseases

Both organs play an instrumental part in converting vitamin D from sunshine (and supplements) to a form the body can use. Individuals with these issues may need more time in the sun to obtain the same benefits as those who do not suffer from these diseases.


Elderly people

The elderly lose their ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight. As a result, they may need longer periods in the sunshine to receive the same benefits as a younger person.


Although the focus is on natural sunshine, it is worth mentioning that tanning beds, once thought to be safe, are now known to be just the opposite as the main type of light used in most tanning beds is UVA.


Discover simple and effective tips to safely enjoy the benefits of the ‘feel-good sunshine vitamin’ – vitamin D… because when you feel better you are inclined to be more productive. You get various tips on how to gain the benefits from the sun but protect yourself from sun damage as well as the potential risk of skin cancer – even on a cloudy day!


Despite the risks associate with the UV rays of the sun, you can happily enjoy the great outdoors by being smart and staying safe.

Protect yourself every day, even when it’s cloudy and enjoy the sunshine. It is your power source to regenerate.

... remember, stay curious and keep learning.

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