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Is sun exposure on your skin good or bad?

Why sun exposure is good: When skin is exposed to sunlight, the body produces Vitamin D as a result. Vitamin D is the “sunshine” vitamin. Common signs of deficiency include seasonal depression (sad in the winter when there is less sunlight). Also, Vitamin D plays a major role in bone density health for protection against osteoporosis. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements suggest Vitamin D may protect against colon, prostate, and breast cancers; diabetes; heart disease; and more. 

Why sun exposure is bad: Skin is damaged by excessive sun exposure which is linked to increased risk of skin cancer. However, the negative effects do not stop there. Excessive sun exposure causes early signs of aging, such as, wrinkles and dark spots. 

The ideal amount of sun exposure that balances the positive and negative benefits is currently being researched. In the meantime, here are a few pointers:

  1. Never get burned. If you are going to go into the sun without sunscreen or clothing for protection, aim to spend a short enough amount of time outside to avoid a sun burn. Severe burns are damaging to the skin. For example, if you take walks for less than 30 minutes daily versus laying at the pool for 2 hours. 
  2. ALWAYS protect your face. Vitamin D is made by skin exposure to the sun. This can be arms, legs, back, etc. This means there is no need to ever exposure your face. By wearing a wide brim hat or sunscreen on your face when outdoors, you can protect yourself from premature signs of aging on the face. 
  3. SPF. When wearing sunscreen, aim for SPF 25-30. An SPF greater than 30 is not necessary for skin protection. 
  4. Do not like sunscreen? Opt to protect your skin with long clothing and a wide brim hat!  
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