You’ve heard it said, “sunshine is the best medicine.”  Wait, what? – aren’t we supposed to avoid the sun’s rays to protect our skin getting damaged?  Since we need sunshine to survive and thrive, here are some healthy summer habits to keep in mind:

1. Avoid peak sunshine hours (10am-4pm), except for 5-15min of non-sunscreened peak exposure time to get your daily dose of the all-important vitamin D.
Note: Adequate vitamin D levels benefit almost every part of our body – from strengthening our bones and muscles; to boosting our brain health, nervous system, and respiratory system; improving our immune function and cardiovascular health; as well as possibly preventing cancer formation, aiding in weight management, and more.
2. Don’t soap off at the end of the day. Vitamin D forms on the surface of the skin and can take up to 48 hours to absorb. Rinse off with water only, if possible, and leave the soap for the pits and bits.
3. Eat your sunscreen! Summertime is high-production season for the brightly coloured foods (fruits, berries, vegetables) that are rich in the antioxidants that naturally fight the harmful free radicals that increase in our bodies with UV exposure.
4. Try making your own sunscreen using natural, non-chemical ingredients. Or look for a mineral-based sunscreen (with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that is free of oxybenzone, a chemical that becomes carcinogenic when heated… like by the sun!!
5. Cover up. If you plan on spending any dedicated time in the sun, a wide-brimmed hat and lightweight clothing can go a long way in shielding your skin from sun damage.

While too much sun can be damaging, there are countless benefits to getting sensible sun exposure in moderate amounts. Summertime is a season when we get to soak up our province’s natural beauty… and enjoy fresh air, physical activity, nutritious food, and sun. I know I will be!

Dr. Sarah Sjovold is a Naturopathic Doctor practising in the Langley and Surrey area where she sees patients looking for help with weight loss, women’s health issues, and natural skin rejuvenation.

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