For years all we have heard about is sunscreen and skin cancer. I have several family members that have already had cancerous skin spots removed. However, the consequence of always using sunscreen is at least two-fold. One, sunscreens are filled with harmful ingredients. Two, as a nation, we are now vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, depression, osteoarthritis, muscle weakness, diabetes, autism, decreased immunity and more. Research indicates that we really need a minimum of 400 IU daily and some research indicates up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Even though milk is now called “Vitamin D milk,” you would need 50 glasses of milk to get that much. Another problem is that most foods are not very rich in vitamin D. However, 20-30 min of sun exposure can produce 10,000 IU Vitamin D.
There are some pretty hefty studies going on concerning vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics has already recommended all breastfed infants be supplemented with vitamin D, and rumor has it that the government is considering increasing the RDA.
How do you reconcile that with the dangers of the sun? Well, for our family, I only use sunscreen if we are going to be out for more than 30 minutes. I do not put sunscreen on 30 min before sun exposure as advised. We put it on after we have been in the sun. I encourage 15-30 min of outdoor play at a time every day if possible (balanced with 100% humidity for much of the year where we live). We go for walks often.