Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Think Twice Tuesday: Think Twice before putting on your sunscreen.

Do you spend a lot of time outside in the summer?  If so, you probably always have a bottle of sunscreen handy.  These days, everyone is so scared to get some sun on them for fear they might come down with skin cancer.  But did you know that the sun is actually good for you?  Here's what I found:

First of, the sun actually helps your body produce a very much needed vitamin. Vitamin D.  This article explains in depth how vitamin D is produced by your body. This is how it works. When the sun hits your skin, a chemical reaction occurs. The light is absorbed by your skin and used to make vitamin D3. It's kind of like photosynthesis for humans. Then your kidneys and liver work to metabolize the vitamin D3 into an active hormone called 1, 25-dihydroxy vitamin D3. This vitamin plays a very important role in almost every system in your body. For example:

-Vitamin D helps build healthy bones.
-Vitamin D helps build a healthy immune system.
-Vitamin D helps your circulatory system stay strong.
-Vitamin D helps keep your cells healthy.

It has become more apparent in these past few years that Americans are suffering greatly from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can be cause the following diseases:

-Unhealthy teeth
-Autoimmune conditions like Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
-Heart disease
-Links between vitamin D deficiency and several deadly cancers have been made.

Studies have proven that the best source of vitamin D is the sun. So why then are we constantly being told to stay inside out of the sun, or cover our bodies completely while out with either clothes and hats or chemical sunscreens? If Vitamin D from the sun is so good for us, then why are we being scared out of spending time in it?
Obviously, studies have been done that show that spending too much time in the sun can lead to serious fatal skin cancers. So how do we protect ourselves from the dangers of the sun while still reaping the great benefits from it? 

An article I found on mothering.com said this,

“A natural alternative to vitamin D supplementation is exposure to sunlight, but how much sunlight? To make enough vitamin D, a baby in a diaper needs a total of only 30 minutes of sunlight a week-less than five minutes a day. Fully clothed and without a hat, a baby would need two hours of sunlight a week, or about 20 minutes a day. Medium to darker skin tones need a little more time in the sun.”

My children are all half Filipino. They have darker skin. During the summer months when we are spending lots of time at the pool I usually let them play for up to 30 minutes without sunscreens. Then we'll take a break for a snack and they get lathered up with a waterproof natural sunscreen. They don't tend to get sunburned, just darker. The benefits of allowing them that time are amazing. They are much healthier in the summer due to all that time outside!
We just had our 5the baby in February, and I was shocked when the pediatrician prescribed a vitamin D3 supplement for me to give to her at her first check-up. I always listen intently to their recommendations then I head home and research for myself the pros and cons of their recommendations and also natural alternatives.  What I discovered, and pretty much already believed, was that limited sun exposure daily to produce natural vitamin D would be great for my baby and much more beneficial than artificial vitamin D.  When we go to the pool, I will take baby in the sun for about 10 minutes, which according to the mothering article is plenty for my darker skinned baby.  I put a sun hat on her but still allow her body to be exposed to the sun.  After her 10 minutes, we sit in the shade while the other children play. 

So I bet you're asking yourself what kind of sunscreen I use for myself and my kiddos.  I always have a good natural form of sunscreen in my pool bag. With so many options out there, making a safe, non-toxic choice can be hard. Here's a few things you should know about sunscreens.

Sunscreens include some of the following dangerous chemicals:
-Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone): These are among the most powerful free radical generators known.
-PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)
-Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate): Are known to be dangerous if they enter the bloodstream. In the 1970's Professor Howard Maibach discovered that as much as 35% of sunscreen enters the bloodstream and the longer it's on the skin, the more absorbed.
-Triethanolamine (TEA): When this chemical was applied topically to female mice an increase in liver tumors was detected. When applied to male mice a smaller increase in liver tumors was noticed, but there was an increase in kidney tumors.
-2-Phenylben zimidazole-5-sulfonic acid (PBSA): This sunscreen ingredient has been shown to damage DNA when exposed to light.
-Benzphenone-3, homosalate octyl-methoxycinnimate, 4-methylbenzlidene (4mbc) camphor and octyldimethyl-PABA (o-d-PABAestrogenics make contact with the hormone receptors, they are interpreted as the real thing (estrogen) and the results are the feminization of tissue. This can lead to endometriosis, uterine and breast cancers, disruption of the menstrual cycle and other problems for women. In men, it can lead to testicular cancer, breast enlargement, lower sperm counts, loss of sex drive and more.

So, what's a mother to do with all of this information? Here are some helpful tips to help keep you and your family healthy and safely protected from the sun.
  1. Please do make sure your child gets daily exposure to the sun.
  2. Gradually expose your children to the suns rays-especially in the summer months.
  3. Avoid sun exposure during the strongest hours of the day: between 11:00am and 3:00pm.
  4. Be aware that snow and water intensify sun radiation, so adjust exposure accordingly.
  5. Use protective clothing, hats, umbrellas, and sunglasses to minimize exposure.
  6. Carefully select a mineral based sunscreen that is non-toxic and does NOT contain synthetic ingredients or preservatives. You can find sunscreens like this at your local health food store

    All of this info can be overwhelming at first. Just remember, the suns rays are actually good for us!  So think twice before lathering the sunscreen on.


Crunchy Katie


  1. I agree with you about the Vit D. Great post. My kids are half Asian and they still tan in the afternoon with sunscreen on!

  2. That IS a lot of info! I agree that 10 minutes a day is an excellent source of vitamin D, and I try to use shade, hats, swim shirts, etc. the rest of the time we're outside so that I put fewer sunscreen chemicals on my babes.

  3. Katie Rain, you are my Wikikatia! Love you!

  4. Our pediatrician recommended the drops too and we gave them to my DS for about a week while we did our own research. Once we too found out all that info about the sun we started to take him outside daily! He's now a very healthy 6 month old who hasn't been sick even once yet! I think finding the most natural source for vitamins is the best option. And thanks for the concise listing of the dangerous ingredients in sunscreens, very helpful.

  5. we rarely ever wear sunscreen, but when we do the only one i have found that is truly all-natural (meaning no crazy synthetics at ALL) is Aubrey Organics. i love his products - they are all totally natural and i feel great about putting them on my son and myself!! working at a natural food store i know that you have to be even more selective than just getting your stuff at a natural/health food store- there is still junk even here!! :( thanks for the great article!

  6. I totally agree with you. I love being out in the sun and I think if we are going out for a small amount of time, the kids are ok without sunscreen and, when we do use sunscreen, we go for the ones that are all natural. The others have some questionable ingredients that I definitely wouldnt want on my children's skin! Great post!