Monday, May 19, 2008

Sun Exposure and Sun Protection

Human beings need sun exposure, but how much? You need your daily sun exposure of about 20 - 30 minutes for health. The rays you receive from the sun contain Vitamin D, and natural Vitamin D is important for preventing cancers of the lung, prostate, colon as well as skin, and other diseases such as lymphoma. Skin cancer is rarely deadly, and lack of sun exposure may be actually worse for your health than too much.

How can you protect yourself from too much sun exposure? First, try to limit direct exposure on bare body parts to no more than 20 - 30 minutes daily. If you find that you must be out in the sun longer, here are some tips:
  • Wear long sleeves and pants (white or light colors are good for repelling heat). In the desert, native people wear long, white or light-colored clothing to protect themselves from sun damage.
  • Wear hats - especially large-brim hats to keep the sun out of your face as well as off your head.
  • Wear head scarves, wraps, or turbans to protect your scalp and areas around your hair that are not on your face.
  • Get out of the sun whenever you can and seek shade. Avoid the sun at mid-day hours when it is hottest and most damaging. Keep in mind that the sun is more powerful in tropical locations and higher altitudes as well. Water also reflects off water, snow, sand and concrete. Use particular care in such situations.
  • Wear protective eye-wear that provides optimal UVA, UVB, and UVC coverage. Inquire where professional eye-wear is sold about this important protection. Generally, optometrists carry eye-wear with this type of protection. Many stores and merchants do not.
  • If you must wear sunscreen, choose a reputable brand that "physically" covers and protects your skin, such as Badger (SPF 30) or California Baby (SPF 30). These products are the highest-rated sunscreen by Cosmetics Database. Most sunscreens are not healthy to use and contain toxic chemicals that can cause health problems. Learn the difference between a chemical sunscreen and a mineral or physical sunscreen - those which contain either zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Check out Cosmetics Database for a directory of top-selling sunscreens and see if the brand you use is on this list. Only 14 percent of sunscreens sold on the market effectively block UVA and UVB damaging rays and contain minimal or no toxic ingredients.
  • When wearing sunscreen, keep in mind that you must apply a thick enough layer to cover your skin evenly, and provide adequate protection. Reapply often if you are going to be out in the sun for a long period of time - once per hour, and particularly more so if you are in the water. Choose sunscreens with at least 15 SPF or higher.
  • If you have left over sunscreen from a previous year, throw it out and purchase new.

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