Some people have been wearing sunscreen all winter long but for many, it’s that time of year again: time to save your skin and slather on the cream.
But for those living in a northern climate, with insufficient vitamin D coming from the sun for a majority of the year, is it a good idea to wear it?
Sunscreen works by blocking out the UVB rays from the sun- the same ones that our bodies use to manufacture vitamin D- and that’s why the benefit of its use can sometimes be seen as questionable.
Proponents of going sunscreen-free point to the fact that vitamin D has been shown to be essential for good bone health, the prevention of some cancers, proper gene functioning and a whole host of health matters.
Not getting enough can also cause obvious serious problems like rickets and unhealthy growth in children.
And so, while it’s a good idea to protect against skin cancer by applying sunscreen, is it a good idea to wear it all the time? Are we preventing one disease, while in turn, promoting others?
The good news is studies like this one done by Antony Young, a professor of experimental photobiology at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College in London, England, have shown that slathering on the goop can actually be OK for vitamin D production.
If you wear sunscreen -and even a lot of it- your body will still manufacture vitamin D. It won’t manufacture as much as it does without it, but the factory wheels do keep on turning.
Still want that sun? If you’re not outside for long in the warmer weather and you tend to stay indoors where it’s cool, you might consider going sunscreen-free for about 15 minutes when you do go outside, before applying sun protection.
This way you can encourage adequate vitamin requirements for your body, while still protecting your skin.
Every body is different though, so listen to your skin to see what’s best for you. In the meantime, happy sunny days!