Summer is fast approaching! It may be your favorite season as you head to the beach and pool, or you may despise the heat and hide indoors. Regardless, the endless sunshine of the summer season is bound to affect you and your family. We all know the sun’s rays can be a blessing and a curse in terms of our health, so it’s important to equip yourself with the knowledge of both how exactly the sun can benefit us and how to best protect yourself from the heat this year.
One of the most known but also most underestimated benefits of sun exposure is the production of Vitamin D. While other vitamins and minerals can be found in foods, we get Vitamin D through a reaction triggered by sun exposure on our skin. If someone is deficient in Vitamin D, it is likely because of a lack of time outside in the sun. Vitamin D deficiency also manifests itself in symptoms of fatigue, bone pain, muscle aches, and mood changes like depression. Vitamin D is vital for the formation of bones, and lack of Vitamin D can contribute to greater risk for osteoporosis in adults. Vitamin D also reduces inflammation and regulates our immune systems, meaning adequate Vitamin D can be a great, natural immunity booster!
Sun exposure also helps produce serotonin, the hormone responsible for creating the feeling of being happy. Often in the winter when the weather is gloomier, people experience seasonal depression. This is partially attributed to the lack of sunlight and lowered production of serotonin in the body. It’s important in the winter to spend time outside when it’s sunny.
While the sun has great benefits, we also have to watch out for the harms it can cause. Sun exposure in itself isn’t bad, but unprotected exposure to harmful UV rays is the real danger. Premature aging and skin cancer are the main consequences of repeated unprotected exposure to UV rays. The best way to protect ourselves from the sun is to not go outside when the UV rays are highest during mid-afternoon, wear clothing that covers our skin, or wear appropriate and effective sunscreen.
Summer sunscreen tips:
- Always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF
- Look for clothing with a UV protection factor when going to the beach or long hikes outside
- Protect your lips with at least SPF 15
- Use extra caution and apply more regularly near snow, sand, and water, as these increase the reflection of the UV rays and can increase damage
- Always test a new sunscreen on your wrist before using on your child
- Don’t forget overexposed areas like feet, tops of the ears, and scalp
This summer, make sure your family is getting the sun exposure that’s healthy for them. And it is healthy, after all! Consider morning or evening walks when the sun is still up but the UV rays are lower. Make sure if you’re outside between 10am and 4pm that you’re using extra precaution with sunscreen and protective clothing.
The sun is here for us to enjoy and reap benefits from, as long as we know the dangers to watch out for.
To seek further advice from one of our healthcare professionals, schedule an appointment with us.