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You Need Sun! 10 Healthy Tips to Get It

6. After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself. If you’re going to be out in the sun for longer periods, wear a hat to protect your face and light colored clothing that blocks the sun and keeps you cool. When you do apply sunscreen, use one with fewer chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens. Remember that even weak sunscreens block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D, so once you have applied it, you will not be making vitamin D.

7. Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats. These strengthen skin cells, helping to protect them from sun damage. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, goji berries and pomegranates and supplementing with green powdered mixes and fish oils are great options when going into the sun.

8. Have your vitamin D blood levels checked regularly. The correct blood test is 25OH vit D or 25 hydroxy vitamin D test. Be aware, however, that current “normal” range for vitamin D is 20 to 55 ng/ml. This is much too low! Those levels may be fine if you want to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, but they are not adequate for optimal health. The ideal range for optimal health is 50-80 ng/ml.

9. Don’t rely on food alone for your vitamin D needs. It is almost impossible to get your vitamin D needs met by food alone. Fatty wild fish (not farmed), like salmon and mackerel are the best food sources, but you would have to eat huge quantities of them daily to get anywhere near what your body needs. Although fortified milk and orange juice do contain vitamin D, you would have to drink at least 10 glasses of each daily and I don’t recommend doing that.

10. Take Vitamin D3 supplements if necessary. In the winter or if you don’t get enough healthy sun exposure or if your blood levels are low, make sure you supplement with at least 2,000 IU’s a day of Vitamin D3. Although I recommend moderate sunbathing, vitamin D supplements provide the same benefits as sunshine (in terms of Vitamin D needs). But, if taken in too large a dose, they can cause vitamin D toxicity, whereas sun exposure does not. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from the sun: Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs, which just reaffirms to me that we should get our vitamin D from sensible sun exposure. Here are specific guidelines for replenishing Vitamin D.

Conclusion
Although irresponsible sunbathing is unquestionably harmful and precautions need to be taken, regular, moderate, unprotected sun exposure is essential for good health. It is free, easy to get and good for you when used intelligently. It is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body, which we now know to be an essential ingredient for optimizing health and preventing disease.

Frank Lipman MD is the creator of Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions, a leading edge integrative health program.

He is also the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC, where he practices a combination of Western and Eastern Medicine and the many other complimentary modalities he has studied. He is the author of the recent REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) and TOTAL RENEWAL: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003). and

Follow Dr. Frank Lipman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lipmo

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.

105 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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