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Sun ProtectionSo much of skin damage and premature aging, such as wrinkling and freckling of the skin, is due to over-exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays.

Having said that though… did you realise that our bodies require sunlight to synthesise Vitamin D?

And did you know that 75% of the body’s Vitamin D supply is generated by exposure of our skin to the sun?

So getting enough sunlight, but not too much is extremely important!

So what is so important about Vitamin D?

  • This lovely vitamin plays a key role in the body’s immune system;
  • I’m guessing you all know how important calcium is for our bodies, i.e. important for strong bone formation. Well our good friend Calcium needs Vitamin D to help our bodies absorb and use it;
  • It plays a role in our body’s blood cell formation, and again helps Calcium to regulate cell growth;
  • Vitamin D is a vital hormone which assists with regulating many organs in the body;
  • Studies have shown that Vitamin D produced from sunlight actually protects us from skin cancer!!

HOLD ON… isn’t that what over-exposure to the sun can cause… “skin cancer”??? (see # below)

OK, so why the fuss about over-exposure to the sun?

After all, doesn’t a lovely sunny day make us happy? And with bonus Vitamin D, what IS the fuss about?

As Summer is fast approaching us here in Australia, I can’t help but think we all need a reminder that although sunlight is important in the quest for Vitamin D, AND we love the sun, we need to consider the devastating effects of too much UV.

Over-exposure to UV causes radiation damage which weakens the skin and in turn ages it. UV rays are at their most dangerous as we spend leisurely time outdoors during the summer months. However, too much of the thing that brings us “the letter D” is damaging all year round. Regular periods of over-exposure to the sun will end up breaking down skin fibres of collagen and elastin… the result is the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) starts to thicken and sunspots, dilated capillaries and hard leathery skin appear. And not to mention… # increases the risk of skin cancer!

Things you can do to avoid over-exposure to the sun include:

Exercise precaution every day, and protect your skin to avoid becoming one of the many Australians with sun damaged skin.

Statistics show an alarming growth in the number of melanoma cases in Australia. Let’s make an effort to curb this terrible trend and take some simple steps in our skin care regime to protect the largest organ of the human body…our skin!

Be sensible outdoors, and remember to “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek & Slide”! We all know the slogan! “SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on sunscreen, SLAP on a hat, SEEK shade from the sun”, and to help reduce the risk of eye damage “SLIDE” on a pair of sunglasses.

Be mindful when you SLOP on a sunscreen though, to make sure you are not using a chemical laden one… look for a natural sunscreen.

You should also avoid being in the sun between the hours of (usually) 10am and 4pm because during those peak danger times sun is at its most intense and can cause sunburn in just 20 minutes!

It is also known that activity in the sun is better than inactivity, i.e. a person running around and playing or being active on the beach is most likely to gain an overall tan, rather than someone who lays down sun baking (who not only has an uneven tan, but usually has increased risk of sunburn). Of course though, no-one should either lie in the sun or frolic on the beach without strong sun protection.

Now this might sound silly, BUT be aware of reflections!

You might have noticed while driving in a car on a sunny day that your right arm becomes sunburnt! Well that is because the UV rays are enhanced by the reflective glass, which ultimately means increased risk of sun damage. The same can be said for reflections from water, snow, sand, cement and in fact any reflective surfaces so avoid reflective sun damage.

Another interesting fact to remember is that sunlight can penetrate water down to three metres, so sun damage can also occur while swimming under water.

Diet can also effect how your skin deals with the sun. I read an interesting piece in a ground-breaking book called “The Fat Revolution” – written by Christine Cronau – where she talks about the benefits of natural fats in the body and the relationship with skin and how the two interact with the sun. Christine’s book is definitely worth a read, as it makes you sit up, take notice and question the hype we have been fed over the years.

Stick to these healthy tips and not only will you be helping prevent that unhealthy, unattractive “leathery” skin appearance, but more importantly, you will be doing your best to protect against melanoma.