The sun in Phoenix is both a blessing and a curse. We love and hate the warmth it brings. And we constantly question how long we should be exposed. Sunscreen for skin-cancer protection? No sunscreen for more vitamin D? It can be confusing, especially if you know you look great with a nice, healthy tan. That’s the question: should we bask in its rays or stay out of the sun?
The Sun’s Primary Benefit
No doubt about it, there are many good things about proper sun exposure. Dr. Robert S. Stern, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, cautions that moderation is key. While there are certainly detrimental effects of too much sun, a January 2017 Harvard article stated vitamin D is the biggest benefit.
Vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to osteoporosis and general bone loss. Research varies on the amount of vitamin D the body needs, but many doctors suggest at least 1,000 IU, and some people need 5,000 IU or more.
Sun Exposure Can Heal Us
Physicians understand that sunlight creates vitamin D in the body, but they have also been using its beneficial rays for other medical purposes for generations.
Since World War I, sunlight has been used to disinfect and heal wounds. And in the 1970s, an American physician, Dr. Zane Kime, used a mix of sunlight and diet to cure his patients of cancer, even in terminal cases.
Sunlight has also done wonders for people with skin disorders, including psoriasis, acne, eczema, and fungal infections.
The sun’s rays convert high cholesterol in the blood into steroid and sex hormones that are needed for reproduction. Without adequate sunlight, however, researchers have found that substances in the blood will convert to cholesterol.
Along the same lines, sunlight can significantly lower blood pressure in those who suffer from high blood pressure. Its rays penetrate the skin to cleanse the blood, having a positive effect on atherosclerosis.
Too Much Sun Exposure Can Be Harmful
Even with its many benefits, there’s truth to the claim that sun’s rays are dangerous. After all, too much sun causes skin cancer; that’s been proven. UVA and UVB contribute to not only skin cancer but also eye damage and premature aging. It’s good practice to limit sun exposure and wear good-quality sunscreen when you’ll be outside for an extended amount of time.
Tanning beds also expose the body to UV rays, which provide a danger in their own right. If a tan is what you seek, the best way to achieve that without damage is a spray-on tan. They are now more natural looking than ever and can help you get that sun-kissed look you crave.
The Right Amount of Sun
Unfortunately, there’s not a hard-and-fast time limit for how long you can safely spend in the sun. It depends on skin pigmentation more than anything else. A fair-skinned person can get all the vitamin D needed in a just a few minutes, whereas a Hispanic or olive-skinned person might be good with 15–20 minutes, and a black-skinned person could need up to six times more sun exposure for adequate vitamin D synthesis.
To allow beneficial sunlight to reach the skin while avoiding overexposure, try sunscreen with 15 SPF for moderate exposure. If you’ll be in the sun all day long, a higher SPF and protective clothing may be in order.
Complement Your Healthy Life with CoolSculpting
If the amount of sun exposure you get is important to you, that’s a good thing. It means you’re focused on being healthy. And if you’re outside a lot, you’re probably getting not only great sunlight but also exercise and cardiovascular benefits.
CoolSculpting is a perfect complement to your healthy lifestyle. The patented fat-freezing procedure targets unwanted fat cells in your abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms, and even chin. The non-invasive procedure is painless and takes less than an hour. You’re back to your life quickly, and before you know it, you’ll look better in your clothes and feel better overall.
Take our quick quiz now to find out if you're a candidate for CoolSculpting. We look forward to helping you look your best.