Wednesday, 9 December 2015

SUN and what you need to know

In every magazine today, you will find numerous articles about how to behave and protect yourself in the sun, especially in the summer months. Every time I read one, I am thinking all that info is not accurate at all and actually a lot of those things are misleading in order for the industry to make money.

Vitamin D reduces the risk 
of getting a cancer by calcium
 absorption, increasing the cell 
death, reducing metastasis and 
formation of new blood vessels.
Against the popular belief, the sun is very important for you, if not essential. Without sun and the sunlight, nothing would exist and we would also die, due to the fact of having insufficient and important levels of vitamin D, especially D3 one. D3 is very important for overall wellbeing and health. Sunlight increases the levels of happiness as well. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, IBS, multiple sclerosis and autism. It is also vital for immunity and fertility and protects against melanoma.
Vitamin D is not really a true vitamin as we do not need food to obtain it. When the sun´s UVB rays hit your skin, they are turned into vitamin D3 in your body by triggering a molecule called 7-dehydrocholesterol.
Vitamin D reduces the risk of getting a cancer by calcium absorption, increasing the cell death, reducing metastasis and formation of new blood vessels. There have been studies done on a direct connection between vitamin D deficiency and heart disease. If appropriate levels were met, breast cancer could be reduced by 50% and colon cancer by whopping 80%. Sun is also beneficial for relieving fibromyalgia pain.

Octyl methoxycinnamate 
is present in 90% of 
sunscreen brands.
You have surely heard how damaging sun rays are and how much sunscreen you have to apply. This is simply not true. It is a myth that sunscreen prevents cancer, purely promoted by the both cancer and sunscreen industry. Sunlight is very good for your, especially UVB rays - and sunscreens filter out UVB ! This is caused by the ingredient called octyl methoxycinnamate. This ingredient has been shown to kill mouse cells even at the low doses. And more so, when it was shown to be toxic when exposed to the sun. This ingredient is present in 90% of sunscreen brands.
There are also other toxic chemicals present in the sunscreen products, you should avoid, because they are damaging your health:
  • dioxybenzone also know as benzophenone-8 amongst others - linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity and organ system toxicity
  • oxybenzone known also as benzophenone-3, phenylmethanone or methsoxyphenol amongst others - causes cellular level changes, is an endocrine disruptor and allergen. This ingredient is also behind the increased rates for melanoma
  • octisalate know also as ethylhexyl salicylate and benzoic acid amongst others - linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity
  • homosalate - endocrine and hormone disruptor, inhancing the absorption of pesticides in the body, absorbs in the skin
  • octocrylene - can cause allergic skin reactions, irritate skin, eyes and lungs
  • avobenzone also known as butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, 1,3-propanedione amongst others - degrades in the sun, resulting in the release of free radicals that may increase the risk for cancer
  • retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) - when exposed to UV light, it creates free radicals and therefore may cause cancer, can be toxic for developing fetus in pregnant woman, linked to brain swelling, organ toxicity and cardiovascular disease
  • titanium dioxide - is a mineral and not chemical sunscreen, but some studies show, that it may be carcinogenic to humans. Studies on rats showed when powdered form was inhaled, it caused respiratory tract cancer. No conclusive tests showed toxicity when applied on human skin, so it is everyone´s decision whether they want to use it or not.

Many reports showed that NANO titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (both mineral sunscreens) had the ability to pass through skin and generating free radicals, causing the cell damage. It is therefore important to choose non-NANO titanium dioxide and zinc oxide with the particle sizes larger than 100nm, so read the product labels.
UVB rays are the ones responsible for making you turn pink or red in the sun, also known as sunburn. UVA rays are the nasty ones responsible for getting down into the underlying layers of skin causing wrinkling, aging, and in some cases skin cancer.  Choose a sunscreen that protects from both UVB and UVA (also referred to as “broad spectrum”. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide both provide broad spectrum protection. My personal opinion is to used products with only non-NANO zinc oxide (or micronized). Zinc oxide products should be swiped on the skin and not rubbed in, as it works on the surface of the skin.

  Choose products with 
non-NANO titanium dioxide
and zinc oxide with the
particle sizes larger than 100nm.
It is not said by this that we must be baking in the sun for hours, without any protection. It is essential though that you should get direct sunlight and be exposed to the sun for at least 25 minutes each day without any protection. This is best done when UVB rays are absorbed by the body, between 10,00-15,00. If you are darker skinned, you will probably need more than that. After this period and when tanning for long periods, you should then apply natural sunscreen and reapply after swimming and heavy sweating. Be careful again, as not all natural sunscreens are free of above mentioned toxic chemicals, so read the labels. To protect your skin you can also use one of these: coconut oil, carrot oil, raspberry seed oil and various oil mixtures. These are all available in health stores or online health shops. Aloe vera gel is also very good.

If you are new with this, you should start the sun exposure for about 10 minutes, without any protection. You can increase this slightly each time when you are in the sun, to up to 30-40 minutes depending on your skin type, until slightly red (not burnt! ). This will prevent the burning the next time by the protection you already have. Darker skin will need more sunlight because they synthesize vitamin D more slowly. When exposed to the sun you should bare at least 40% of your skin (like your arms and legs). Do not shower for about 90 minutes after you have been exposed to the sun. This will cause vitamin D being properly absorbed in the body.

  To protect your skin
you can also use one of these:
coconut oil, carrot oil, raspberry 
 seed oil and various oil mixtures.  
It is important to note, that in order to prevent early burning, you need to have and adequate levels of vitamins and antioxidants, present in fruits and vegetables as well as B vitamins levels. These will all prevent sunburn. It is enough for you to obtain vitamin D from the sun alone, but in winter when UVB rays are much less or not present at all, you will probably need a good quality vitamin D3 supplement. It is a good idea to supplement even though replacing sun with vitamin D supplements may not be enough for health as sunshine activates nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels to reduce blood pressure and by this lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.   

Sunshine and vitamin D is particularly important for children, where high percentage of sick children are vitamin D deficient, as well as older adults with low levels of vitamin D have an increased risk of death. Researches found that children with low levels of vitamin D had increased dental cavities occurrence. In another research, higher vitamin D levels were shown to have decreased knee cartilage loss in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

  Sunshine and vitamin D is 
particularly important for children,
where high percentage of sick 
children are vitamin D deficient.
With a vitamin D you cannot overdose, if you get more sun than needed. Your body will automatically produce just the right amount you need.

The only wavelength that makes your body produce vitamin D are UVB rays, when they hit the exposed skin. It is important to note that UVB rays are available only in summer (US, Europe), but it also depends on your location when UVB rays will penetrate the atmosphere when the sun is above an angle of about 50 degrees from the horizon, even in summer. The best is to locate your latitude and longitude and check on Google Earth how many days of the year there are of UVB rays for your location. The sun must be above 50 degrees from the horizon. There is a good app for Apple devices that you could use, called D Minder, which will make the calculations for you. So, remember it is best to expose your skin to these beneficial UVB rays at these specific times and not other times where UVA rays can harm your skin and health.

SPF measures the amount of sunlight it takes to make your skin red while using protection vs the amount of sunlight it takes to make your skin red when you do not have sun protection on. SPF 30 is not twice as much protection as SPF 15, but only small percentage more. SPF 15 will protect you from 93% rays, SPF 30 against 97%. So, do not be fooled by high SPF ratings on the products.

When tanning, you want to choose the best and healthiest option out there, just as for your regular skincare and makeup. The best one to choose is a mineral organic sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens reflect the sun´s rays away from the skin contrary to conventional products, which are firstly absorbed in the skin with all the toxins and chemicals and secondly, the sun´s rays are being absorbed when they hit the skin. You want to choose a product without any chemicals (see the list above). These may cause or have been linked to skin damage, various cancers, hormonal imbalance and birth defects. Natural sunscreens use plant based oils with similar properties as your own sebum. They help your skin breathe instead of clogging it with petroleum-based products. Harsh chemicals can cause allergies as well, therefore it is best for the health of your child especially to choose organic products, which are best for their sensitive skin. 

  Mineral sunscreens reflect the 
sun´s rays away from the skin 
contrary to conventional products. 
Organic sunscreens also work immediately, as they do not need to absorb into the skin first. The SPF that is in organic products are obtained from minerals like zinc oxide and also titanium dioxide (as I have explained above). There are different oils used in the products for the best SPF protection. Be sure again, to check the ingredient list for unwanted chemicals by reading the product labels. As shown, there are a lot of organic products, sunscreen not excluding, containing phenoxyethanol and alcohol as well.

When looking for good, safe and effective organic sunscreen product, you want to use something with the best ingredients possible. Herbs are one of these ingredients you can look out in your sunscreen products:
  • green tea - contains powerful and beneficial antioxidant that protects the cells on the inside but has been shown to prevent sunburn when applied on the skin as well. Drinking 2 or more cups daily, showed 65% lower risk in skin cancer
  • various oils - coconut, sesame, olive, broccoli seed oil, borage, evening primrose, avocado and tea tree oil. In a study sesame oil has been show to block 30% of UV rays
  • vitamin E - is an antioxidant and the natural forms such as alpha-tocopherol and tocotrienol protected the skin, so it showed less damage after sun exposure, with less roughness, facial lines and wrinkels
  • krameira triandra root extract - this extract was found in studies to be even more protective than green tea
  • coenzyme Q10 - powerful antioxidant that counteracts damaging free radical activity caused by the sun and could provide enhanced protection from inflammation and premature aging, when used in the skin products
  • golden serpent fern - is a herb, that works as an antioxidant, protecting DNA and skin from UV damage, beneficial especially for sensitive skin
  • helichrysum flowers - protect the skin from damaging rays, with anti-inflammatory and regenerative qualities
  • rosemary - is also rich in antioxidants and protects from free radical damage and helps tame inflammation
  • lavender - is widely used in natural sunscreens, it has a lovely scent in addition to important shield from free radicals as well as protections against cancerous changes

Lastly but not the least, I would like to share with you some links for the online stores where you can order natural and organic products and sunscreens too:

South Africa



US and Canada