Friday, April 11, 2008

Did you know that you need some sunlight?

I hate seeing people completely covered up so that no sunlight touches their skin. Sure, that may reduce the risk of some skin cancers, but it will also increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis, and probably breast cancer.

As with all things nutritional, moderation is the key- you need about 15 minutes of sunlight per day on your arms and legs (more if your skin is dark) in order to make vitamin D. Don't fool yourself that the tiny bit of vitamin D added to milk is enough- spend some time in the sun and your body will make hundreds of times as much as is added to a cup of milk.

Probably because we all spend so much more time blogging than sun bathing, recent studies have found low vitamin D levels in well over half of the people they test, including kids in Georgia and the northeastern U.S.


C. Seligo said...

I have a 4 year old, whose fair skin more closely resembles his mother's than my own, olive complexion, and because there was never any issue about sunburns or skin cancer in my family, I have often been a bit lax with the sunscreen. We are often swimming and at the beach, and this year, even this early in the season, its become clear that his skin has simply adjusted and he is already becoming quickly tan and not burning at all in the sun. Makes me wonder whether, with children especially, if their melanin is more mutable, they may not ever develop the ability to tan properly, if overly shielded in childhood. There is a practical aspect to doing this too: kids just WON'T be as careful as we want them to be, so if their own bodies can do it, its always going to be better. He is also getting a few tiny freckles on his nose bridge, which might be called "skin damage" or simply cute. What's the moderate advice on this question?

Gerda Endemann said...

I put sunscreen on my kids if they were going to be in the bright sun for more than a half hour, or if they were anywhere near turning red. Since your son's skin is naturally fair, he doesn't need as much sun as you to be able to make vitamin D (you have your own natural sunscreen). You could routinely put sunscreen on his nose to be careful.