We’ve literally cut off our nose to spite our face when it comes to sun exposure. To avoid skin cancer, we’ve shunned the sun and, thereby, the best source of Vitamin D for our bodies.
Worse, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have risen—not declined. A 2007 document from the FDA states: “The FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” In truth, there is a lot of evidence showing that most sunscreens actually raise skin cancer risk.
Most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients and/or endocrine disrupting chemicals that in many cases may actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body. Even so-called “natural”, commercially available sunscreens have toxic ingredients! Check out your brand here!
The only time your body can make vitamin D from the sun’s rays is when you get out in high-angle sun. During the year, as the sun drops below
Lack of sun exposure is a much bigger problem than too much exposure. Although most clinical signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are extremely subtle or nonspecific, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many types of cancers, fertility and mood disorders. But the more subtle, until it is too late, effect of vitamin D deficiency may be on bone structure.
Vitamin D deficiency causes a decrease in how well your intestines absorb calcium, which in turn, leads to an increase in the production of parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH does two things: it stimulates the kidney to produce 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D to boost intestinal calcium absorption and stimulates specialized bone cells to mobilize calcium stores from your bones. As your bones demineralize to provide the necessary calcium, they weaken and you develop osteoporosis.
And another thing happens. PTH also stimulates your kidneys to eliminate phosphate (if this is quite a lot, it can be seen as cloudy urine and called phosphaturia—common in people who take high doses of synthetic calcium supplements) As your blood phosphate levels drop (hypophosphatemia) there is not a correct calcium x phosphate balance to mineralize the bone (osteomalacia) and which is sometimes felt as generalized bone aches and pains.
Insufficient vitamin D and consequent calcium imbalances also cause weak muscles and high blood pressure as well as being linked to pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and possibly type II diabetes.
During the winter at latitudes above 35 degrees North and South, very little, if any, vitamin D can be produced in the skin. Live in Boston (42°N)? You make no vitamin D from November through February. Edmonton, Canada? or Bergen, Norway? Vitamin D production halts between October and April. Alaska has an even shorter window of opportunity to make vitamin D3 by getting out in the sun.
During those sunny summer months, the D3 produced but not used is stored in your body fat. It is released during the winter to maintain D levels. Although sunscreens may reduce skin damage from excessive exposure, they block the D3 production needed to store enough vitamin D for the winter months.
Enjoy judicious, limited exposure to sunlight and prevent vitamin D deficiency. If you know you are likely to burn, try to start with just a little time, say 10 minutes of direct exposure. Then apply light sunscreen or wear clothes to make sure exposure is not excessive.
As your skin darkens, it becomes more protected and also makes less vitamin D. As a rule of thumb, stay in the sun just 20% to 25% of the time to a mild sunburn. (i.e., If you would develop a mild sunburn after 30 minutes of sun exposure, then expose your skin just 6 to 8 minutes). Doing this 2 to 3 times a week is more than adequate to satisfy the body’s requirement and can raise vitamin D to levels equivalent to those achieved by ingesting between 10,000 and 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D.
½ cup almond oil (natural SPF 5)
¼ cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
¼ cup beeswax
up to 1 teaspoon Red Raspberry Seed Oil (25-50 SPF) or Carrot Seed Oil (35-40 SPF)
5 drops Rosemary essential oil as a natural preservative
Optional: fragrant essential oils – note: most citrus oils are phototoxic, meaning they sensitize the skin to the sun’s rays. Rosemary has a very pleasing smell and is also a powerful insect repellent. Or choose any of the oils used in this non-toxic bug spray recipe and get two functions in one great product!
Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.
The oil base makes this sunscreen somewhat, but not completely, waterproof and should be reapplied after swimming or as needed.
Adjust the consistency to your liking by using more or less beeswax.
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Disclaimer: None of the recipes on these pages are intended to be taken as any medical advice whatsoever. These are fun and aimed at giving safer options than their chemical counterparts.