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You Need Sun! 10 Healthy Tips to Get It

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My Top 10 Tips for Healthy Sun Exposure and Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels

1. Have a healthy respect for the sun. It is powerful medicine with potentially dangerous side effects on your skin. Treat it like medication, using the lowest dose necessary, but don’t avoid it completely. Never fall asleep in the sun without protection.

2. Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems. Repeated sunburns, especially in children and very fair-skinned people, have been linked to melanoma. Whereas there is no credible scientific evidence that regular, moderate sun exposure causes melanoma or other skin cancers.

3. Prepare your skin and build up tolerance gradually. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun.

4. Get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure two to four times a week. Each of us has different needs for unprotected sun exposure to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D. Depending on your age, what type of skin you have, where you live and what time of the day and year it is, your need will vary. The farther you live from the equator, the more exposure to the sun you need in order to generate vitamin D. For instance, a fair skinned person, sitting on a New York beach in June, in the middle of the day, for about 10-15 minutes (enough to cause a light pinkness 24 hours after), is producing the equivalent of 15,000-20,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. But the same person living further north in the U.K, or Canada would need 20-30 minutes to get that light pinkness, which is all one needs. Also, people with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 – 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people, to generate the same amount of vitamin D. For more specifics, I recommend the tables in The Vitamin D Solution by Dr. Michael Holick.

5. Get frequent, short exposures. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than intermittent long ones. Note that you cannot generate Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window, because the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D production are absorbed by glass.

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Health, Holistic Beauty, Revive with Dr. Frank Lipman, Skin Care, ,

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Dr. Frank Lipman

Founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, Dr Frank Lipman is a pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine. His personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their zest of life. To hang with Frank, visit his blog, follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook community today.

106 comments

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5:09PM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

Moderation is key. Thanks for the post.

6:09AM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

continued...

However, I completely agree with everything else Dr. Lipman writes, especially since he prefers sunbathing to supplements and I am incredibly happy that I get to live in beautiful, sunny Greece, where I can get all the sunshine I need on a year-round basis.

5:52AM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

Bringing our ancestors relationship with the sun into the discussion is a huge oversimplification, as well. For one thing, humans lived a LOT less back then (their life expectancy was shockingly small, by today's standards -- a 30-year-old Neaderthal was *really really* old), which made it extremely difficult for them to develop any kind of cancer (a disease that takes notoriously long to manifest). For another, there was no ozone layer hole back then, so the sun was indeed much less harmful than it is in our times.

9:32AM PDT on May 22, 2011

thanks! i love when health science meets what should be common sense.. and what only seems logical. me natural. sun natural. building and sunscreen manmade.

lately i've been lying out in the sun often (for vitamin D) and then - go figure - my depression lifted and i started sleeping better. i say avoid the sun at its harshest (indoors or find a shady tree) and by all means avoid sunburns (even if it's for no other reason than that, ouch! it hurts) but definitely get sunshine!!

4:14PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thanks

6:08AM PDT on Mar 24, 2011

Gracias!

4:43AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

Also, it's great that some people don't burn and have good metabolisms, but this simply doesn't apply to everyone: I have friends who are very healthy apart from their sun allergies; they cannot wear short sleeves in the summer and should they walk around with no sunscreen they end up severely burnt or worse in a matter of 15-20 minutes...

4:40AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

Very interesting, but I don't think it applies where I leave: people get too much sun rather than too little and spend hours sunbathing with no lotion or very weak filters, because higher than 8/12 tend to be very expensive.

9:53PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

This was a great article. I've always hated wearing sunscreen (it feels gross on the skin, particularly when mixed with perspiration and salt water!) but love being in the sun.
I've read brazil nuts are supposed to be a great antidote for over exposure and can help reduce the risk of skin cancer. Is this true?

12:26AM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

Thank you very much for this insightful article! I always try to spend at least 60 minutes outside each day - especially in the less sunny months - and try to replenish possible Vitamin D shortages with healthy Vitamin-D-rich foods :)

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