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Summer Sun Skin Safety
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director

Summer is finally here! After a long, cold, dark winter, it's tempting to make up for lost time and spend as much time outdoors as possible. A little sun-worshipping is good for vitamin D production and generally improving the mood, but too much exposure puts us at risk for sunburn, leading to premature aging, wrinkles, and possible skin cancer. As with most things, moderation is the key.

It's wise to use chemical-free sunscreen, but remember this blocks out the UV-B rays necessary to make vitamin D, so you will want to get some pre-sunscreen sun exposure too. You'll need about 10-20 minutes with adequate skin exposed (such as arms and legs) and more time for darkly pigmented skin. Do this in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the strongest rays of the day. I usually keep my face protected at all times with a hat or visor (the ultimate sunblock) to prevent damage to sensitive skin. It's important to evaluate what your skin's tolerance is, and avoid sunburn first and foremost.

Keep in mind that it's not just about externally protecting the skin. There is a lot we can do from the inside as well. Antioxidants can help protect skin cells from damage and they can slow the time it takes for skin to redden from UV exposure. One study showed that sufficient doses of beta-carotene and vitamin E together increased the time it took for skin to redden. Lutein and lycopene are also carotenoids that show promise in slowing the rate of sunburn. Another study showed that high dose vitamin C and vitamin E regularly reduces the risk of sunburn by 34% as compared to those taking placebo.

In the dermal layer of the skin, collagen is responsible for giving skin firmness and texture. Sunburn, along with smoking and genetic factors causes collagen to break down, which is one of the main causes of wrinkle formation. Vitamin C can help support collagen production. Beyond just oral use, vitamin C can be applied topically to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and protect skin from UV damage, when used regularly. Collagen production can also be supported through supplementation. Biocell Collagen, which is in Nature's Way's Hydraplenish Plus, provides hydrolyzed collagen and bioavailable hyaluronic acid to help boost collagen formation. It has been shown to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but it also benefits joints by supporting cartilage health.

If you have the unfortunate experience of getting a sunburn, I have found the best way to relieve the pain and prevent peeling is to use Alaffia's Handcrafted Shea Butter liberally.

J Nutr,2003;133:98-101 Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Feb;56(2):287-95 J Am AcadDermatol,1998;38:45-8.) Dermatol Surg, 2005;31:814-817

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