Getting outdoors in the summer is more than just fun in the sun. Sunlight naturally turns up our vitamin D, boosting our immune system and protecting our bones, and research shows it indeed lifts our mood.1 It’s good for us to soak up those rays!
But it’s important to balance the benefits and downsides of sun exposure. The same UVB rays that generate vitamin D also damage our skin, causing sunburns. This oxidative damage is what can contribute to the risk of skin cancer. Excess UVB can even sap up our stores of B vitamins, particularly folate.2
While it’s a treat to lie on the beach for hours, the health benefits of sun can max out quickly. Just 13 minutes of summer sun in shorts and a T-shirt, or 4 minutes with full body exposure, 3 times a week can maximize vitamin D production in light-skinned individuals.3 If you have darker skin pigment it can take several times longer,4 but still much less than a full beach day. So, it’s important to protect your skin from sun damage if you’ll be out for any more than a short while.
Here are some of Dr. Morrison’s top strategies for protecting your skin this summer:
Use natural sunscreens. Just like we take care to select toxin-free healthy foods, we want to choose toxin-free products to put on our skin. Dr. Morrison’s favorite is Love Sun Body, with non-nano zinc oxide for maximum natural SPF. Be sure to reapply every couple of hours for lasting protection. Check out our sunscreen blog for some of the most important toxins to avoid in sunscreens, and some of our other favorite all-natural brands!
Eat antioxidants for internal SPF and skin cancer protection. While too much sun can cause oxidative damage in the skin, consuming antioxidants can help create a buffer – adding some natural SPF (sun protection factor) from the inside out! Human clinical research shows that high doses of vitamin C and E increase the skin’s resistance to UV damage.5 Take our Daily Benefit Buffered Vitamin C (2 daily) and Annatto-E 300** (2 daily) for maximum protection.
Numerous clinical studies have shown that green tea, packed with antioxidants, protects the skin against UV damage.6 So does pomegranate, which contains the special antioxidant ellagic acid.7 Our Daily Benefit Detox Nutrients contains powerful pomegranate and green tea extracts, to make sure you’re getting your skin-protective antioxidants daily. Check out our Eat Your SPF blog for more ideas, including an antioxidant-rich mocktail recipe!
Sometimes we do our best and still manage to get burnt. It can happen to the best of us! In addition to eating those antioxidants, keep some HyperOxy Oozinated Olive Oil on hand to help heal the oxidative damage from the outside. Alternate applications with aloe vera gel to soothe the burn, and consider taking some extra folate to help replenish your stores.
**This product is available online for TMC patients only. If you are not a TMC patient and interested in learning more about it, please call the TMC office at 212-989-9828.
- An M, Colarelli SM, O’Brien K, Boyajian ME. Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(5):e0155614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155614
- Weber B, Marculescu R, Radakovic S, Tanew A. Serum levels of folate, 25‐hydroxyvitamin D3 and cobalamin during UVB phototherapy: findings in a large prospective trial. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020;34(2):385-391. doi:10.1111/jdv.15941
- Rhodes LE, Webb AR, Fraser HI, et al. Recommended Summer Sunlight Exposure Levels Can Produce Sufficient (≥20ngml−1) but Not the Proposed Optimal (≥32ngml−1) 25(OH)D Levels at UK Latitudes. J Invest Dermatol. 2010;130(5):1411-1418. doi:10.1038/jid.2009.417
- Sawicki CM, Van Rompay MI, Au LE, Gordon CM, Sacheck JM. Sun-Exposed Skin Color Is Associated with Changes in Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in Racially/Ethnically Diverse Children. J Nutr. 2016;146(4):751-757. doi:10.3945/jn.115.222505
- Eberlein-König B, Placzek M, Przybilla B. Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998;38(1):45-48. doi:10.1016/s0190-9622(98)70537-7
- Di Sotto A, Gullì M, Percaccio E, Vitalone A, Mazzanti G, Di Giacomo S. Efficacy and Safety of Oral Green Tea Preparations in Skin Ailments: A Systematic Review of Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 2022;14(15):3149. doi:10.3390/nu14153149
- Bae JY, Choi JS, Kang SW, Lee YJ, Park J, Kang YH. Dietary compound ellagic acid alleviates skin wrinkle and inflammation induced by UV-B irradiation. Exp Dermatol. 2010;19(8):e182-190. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.01044.x