Flo & Grace’s Health and Fitness Editor, Christy Thiel, joined me in the backyard for a sun break where we put together this short video on The Art of Tanning Safely.
From Sun Worshipper to Cave Dweller
You would think that a girl who’s had run-ins with skin cancer would shun the sun for the rest of her days.
That was the plan after a procedure back in 2001 that left a doozy of a spider-shaped scar above my left boob. The sun I had grown up
basking frying in had became my nemesis. The sun was ruthless. The sun was evil.
My First Skin Cancer
Following that first scare with skin cancer, I resorted to hanging in the shade and wearing floppy hats. Funny thing was, the pre-cancerous actinic keratoses and basal cell lesions continued to crop up despite my protective measures.
In the cave dwelling years that followed, I had a horrid breakdown coupled with extreme fatigue and benign chest pain. I got sick unusually often and just wasn’t feeling all that well. My doctor suggested we test my vitamin D level. What we found was quite revealing.
Optimal Vitamin D Level
Optimally, a healthy person’s vitamin D level should be in the 50-70 ng/ml range. Mine was 19 ng/ml. Very low. Unhealthily low. So low, in fact, that I was putting myself at risk for serious bad boy chronic disease like multiple sclerosis, depression, infection … oh and cancer and heart disease.
Now, wasn’t that interesting?
The Best Ways to Get Vitamin D
I started supplementing with high doses of vitamin D and my symptoms began to fade. It took time, but within a year I was able to get my vitamin D level up to 40 ng/ml. But I needed more. And because the two main ways to get vitamin D are by exposing your bare skin to sunlight and by taking vitamin D supplements—I decided to venture out of the cave and back into the light.
For me, the protective benefits that the sun could provide in the form of vitamin D outweighed the risk of developing isolated skin cancer lesions. That said, these days I expose my Scotch-Irish skin to the sun sensibly and in moderation. When I know I will be out in the sun for more than 20 minutes I will wear non-toxic sunscreen, a hat and protective clothing. Otherwise, I slip into a bikini or hike up my shorts and head to the backyard for a 15 to 20-minute vitamin D fix.
4 Tips for Tanning Safely and Healthfully
Today Christy Thiel, Flo & Grace’s Health and Fitness Editor, joined me in the backyard for a sun break. We put together this short video on The Art of Tanning Safely. Christy’s tips for tanning safely and healthfully include:
1. Go Slow. Don’t Burn.
You know your skin and how much sun it can tolerate. If you are fair, start with 5-10 minutes a day and build from there. Chris Kesser offers some great pointers on finding the amount of exposure that is just right for you, as does Dr. Mercola.
2. Lay Out Between 10 and 2.
This is the time of day you will benefit from UVB rays (that’s right, benefit from UVB). If you have an iPhone, try the dminder app.
3. Do Not Put Chemicals on Your Skin
No oils, lotions, or sunscreens are required on your arms, torso and legs. But do protect the skin on face, neck and scalp with a non-toxic sunscreen and/or wide-brimmed hat.
4. Do Not Exfoliate or Shave for 24-48 Hours
Do not shave or exfoliate your skin for 24-48 hours after exposure. This will give your skin time to synthesize all that luscious vitamin D.
Have You Made Peace with the Sun?
Do you have a vitamin D story for us here at Flo & Grace? Have you made peace with the sun and give thanks that our bodies were so perfectly designed and need the sun? If so, we’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: Editors and contributors to Flo & Grace are not doctors unless otherwise stated. Statements made on this site and Flo & Grace media channels have not been evaluated by the FDA. All material and product mentions presented here are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.