Information on Tanning Safely
There is much controversy about the sun, sun tanning, skin damage, SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and skin cancer. Some health authorities advocate zero exposure to sunlight and recommend piling on the SPF sunscreen and covering up every part of your body. However, while many experts say to avoid the sun completely, the truth is that this may be bad advice.
A Tan is Your Body’s Natural Protection
A tan is your body’s natural protection from sunburn and overexposure. It is the cumulative effect of repeated sunburn that is the primary cause of most skin damage. Since sunburn is a valid concern, and tanned skin is less likely to burn, you may be far better with natural protection than from attempting to avoid the sun all together. Here is what one reliable source determined in a recent study.
The British Medical Journal Posted an Editorial Concluding Moderate Sun Exposure is a Prudent Decision.
“Sun exposure is and has been a contributing factor in maintaining health. Sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D, which reduces the risk of certain cancers. People in the United Kingdom cannot synthesize vitamins during the winter months due to decreased amount of sun exposure.” The authors say that people should get moderate sun exposure without sunscreen in order to allow the adequate synthesis of vitamin D. Further the author’s state sunscreens do not adequately protect against ultraviolet light, which is carcinogenic, and that sunscreens should not be relied upon to prevent melanoma. You can read the full article here: British Medical Journal November 22, 2003.
Here is What Dr. Mercola, a Widely Recognized Authority on Natural Health, Had to Say Regarding the Topic:
“With the negative spin that sun exposure has gotten from the media, you may be tempted to avoid the sun completely. But remember that we all need sunshine to stay healthy. Exposure to the sun provides many benefits such as promoting the formation of vitamin D and fighting depression."
Can sun exposure cause skin cancer? Absolutely. However, there is strong evidence that suggests sunlight is protective against MS and breast, colon and ovarian cancers.
This does not mean that we should all go out and get as much sun as we want-you must exercise caution. At the beginning of the season, go out gradually and limit your exposure to perhaps as little as 10 minutes a day. Progressively increase your time in the sun so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.
Remember to Never get Burned,
Using sunscreen is not a good way to limit your sun exposure; in fact, sunscreen is one of the LAST things you want to put on your body. Sunscreen is a toxic chemical that can cause problems in your system and increase your risk of disease. A far more logical solution would be to creatively use your clothing to block the sun’s rays while you build your natural tan.”
The best decision is an informed decision so the following information is intended to provide factual information that will educate you so the decision you make is based on sound knowledge. So let’s start with learning about your skin and the process of tanning.
What You Need to Know About Your Skin
Skin is made up of very specific cells and tissues and consists of two main layers: the epidermis on the outside and the dermis on the inside. The epidermis is the barrier, while the dermis is the layer containing all the "equipment", things like nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles and so on. Here's a visual to help you understand what is going on:
In the subcutaneous layer, you can see the blood vessels that branch infinitely (not shown) into the dermis. These vessels supply blood to the sweat glands, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and erector muscles.
The dermis is where the action is. As shown in the diagram, the dermis contains sweat glands, hair follicles, nerve endings, etc.
The epidermis has two main layers, the inner of which is living and the outer of which is dead. The dead skin cells of the outer layer are what we can actually see, and they are constantly flaking off and being replaced by new cells being pushed outward. When you exfoliate your skin you are simply speeding up the process of removing dead cells so the new, fresh, vibrant cells will be on the surface.
The inner layer is in direct contact with the dermis, which feeds and supports it. This inner layer is our focus because it is here that the sun affects the skin during tanning.
Melanocytes Produce Melanin Which is the
Living among the basal cells in the inner layer is another type of cell called a melanocyte. Melanocytes produce melanin which is a pigment that is the source of the golden brown look we call a tan. The melanocytes are actually where your tan starts. Here is what the encyclopedia has to say about melanocytes: "The color or tone of your skin is determined by melanin, a pigment manufactured by cells called melanocytes. Skin color differences are due solely to the amount of melanin produced and the nature of the pigment granules."
To Tan Faster and Tan Darker,
So, now that we know all about the skin, we can start to actually understand what creates a healthy tan and what causes sunburn. When you get a tan, what is actually happening is that the melanocytes are producing melanin pigment in reaction to exposure to ultraviolet rays contained in sunlight.
A Suntan Actually Protects the Skin
Ultraviolet light stimulates melanin production. The pigment has the effect of absorbing the UV in sunlight, so it protects the cells from UV damage. Melanin production takes a fair amount of time over the course of several hours. That is why most people cannot get a tan in one day. By repeating limited sun exposure over 5 to 7 days, pigment (tan) builds up in your cells to a level that is protective.
L-tyrosine Supports Melanin Production
Melanin forms in a special cell called the melanocyte. This cell is found in the skin, in the hair follicles and in the iris and retina of the eye. L-tyrososine is an amino acid found in many common foods and is responsible for the production of melanin. There are supplements which contain L-tyrosine that, when combined with copper and certain vitamins such as E and D, can greatly enhance the body’s ability to produce melanin. You will find these under the search term “tanning pills.” One company that offers a product with a proprietary tanning formula that has produced excellent results can be found at www.healthychoicenaturals.com.
There are many steps in the process of converting the amino acid L-tyrososine to melanin pigment. Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) is produced by the pituitary gland. MSH flows through the bloodstream and reaches the melanocytes, encouraging them to produce more melanin (for example, a person consuming foods or supplements containing L-tyrosine will tend to tan faster and tan darker).
No UV Exposure…No Tan
Any natural tan requires at least some UV exposure to activate the melanocytes. Any product or process which claims you can tan without UV exposure is simply false. Beware of products containing canthaxanthin, which has been banned for sale in the U.S. This product is a coloring agent which has been found to be toxic and may cause serious damage to the liver.
Pills that contain large doses of canthaxanthin are sometimes marketed as "tanning pills." Although the FDA has approved canthaxanthin for use as a color additive in foods where it is used in small amounts, its use as a tanning agent has not been approved. Imported tanning pills containing canthaxanthin are subject to import detention as products containing non-permitted color additives.
The best way to avoid skin damage is to avoid overexposure and to develop a natural protective tan over several moderate exposures to sunlight or exposures to artificially produced sunlight from sun beds or tanning lamps. It is extremely important to exercise moderation and gradually increase exposure over several tanning sessions, either indoors or outdoors.
It is a well-established fact that many skin problems arising from UV exposure are the result of excessive overexposure and repeated sunburn, both of which have a cumulative long-term effect on possible skin damage.
Supplements Help You Tan With Less Sun Exposure
Those who want the protection and cosmetic benefits of a suntan, with only moderate exposure to UV, may find it beneficial to consume foods rich in the amino acid L-tyrosine, copper and vitamins D and E. An easier method is to add supplements to your diet containing these nutrients. You can learn more about these types of products at www.healthychoicenaturals.com.
Sunlight is essential to good health, and lack of exposure to sunlight could be harmful to your well-being. Here are excerpts from a newsletter article published December 22, 2003 by the Health Sciences Institute (HSI) that further explains the importance of sunlight.
A recent item in a major medical journal provides an important reminder of just how important it is to let some sunshine into your day. As I've told you in several e-Alerts (most recently in "SPF 2" 10/8/03), the sun is not an enemy to our health. On the contrary, sunlight exposure is essential to good health. The key is balance.
This concept is generally not embraced by the mainstream medical establishment, so it was refreshing to find confirmation of the health properties of sun exposure in a letter published in a recent issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The author of the letter is Professor Cedric F. Garland of the University of California. And his opinions about sun exposure come from his participation in more than two decades of research on this subject.
Prof. Garland says that a recommendation of moderate exposure to the sun would be only prudent...He explains that "Solar exposure is the main source of vitamin D," and goes on to cite specific studies that demonstrate how vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of several cancers, including colon, breast, and prostate.
He adds that the body can only store vitamin D for a few weeks, so those who live in northern latitudes would be helped by vitamin D supplements.
In a study that appeared in the journal Cancer last year, the lead author, Dr. William B. Grant, set out to determine an association between premature deaths from cancer and insufficient ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation.
Comparing UV-B data with cancer mortality rates in the U.S. between 1970 and 1994, Dr. Grant found a clear correlation between low UV-B radiation exposure and mortality due to 13 different types of cancer. These cancers include the cancers mentioned in Prof. Garland's research, as well as pancreatic, stomach, kidney, lung and other cancers.
More specifically, Dr. Grant found that the rates of these cancers are almost twice as high among those who live in northeastern states compared to residents of the southwest.
He concludes that many lives could be saved by "increased careful exposure to solar UV-B radiation." He also recommends supplementation with vitamin D3 (vitamin D from fish liver oils), especially in late autumn and winter.
To learn more about HSI, call (203) 699-4416
It appears the experts agree and support moderate exposure to UV for all the health benefits discussed above. Whether you are a sun lover or one who subscribes to the theory that “less is better,” it is obvious no sun exposure is unhealthy.
Take it slow and gradually develop a tan. Never burn as sun burning can be harmful and the long-term affect of repeated sunburn can cause damage to your skin.
The best protection is your body’s natural protective mechanism of a suntan. Consider foods or supplements containing copper, L-tyrosine, and vitamins D and E to help your system produce more melanin.
For more information on tanning supplements, visit www.healthychoicenaturals.com.
Findings from a review on vitamin D showed the various health benefits provided by vitamin D and the consequences of vitamin D deficiency. Without vitamin D, the small intestine would only be able to absorb 10 percent to 15 percent of our dietary calcium intake, which could lead to osteoporosis. Other health consequences of vitamin D deficiency include:
Exposure to sunlight supplies us with the majority of vitamin D our bodies require. Darkly pigmented skinned people are the exception because they require 10 to 15 times exposure to the sun to get the same effect as lighter skinned people.
For those people that don’t get adequate amounts of sunlight, experts recommend a minimum of 1,000 IU vitamin D to maintain healthy levels in their blood. A high number of vitamin D deficiency cases have been found in infants who are solely breast fed from adults who have darker skin or lower exposure to the sun. Vitamin D has also often been misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.
Many studies have shown how effective sunlight is in producing vitamin D in the skin. Since few foods contain vitamin D, sunlight provides us with most of the vitamin D we need.
Vitamin D deficiency has been becoming a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March,
Chicago - Blood cholesterol levels peak during autumn and winter but decline in spring and summer, perhaps because warm weather and more activity add volume to the blood, researchers said on Monday.
The report from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre in Worcester was based on a study of 517 healthy men and women who were tracked quarterly over a year on their diet, physical activity, exposure to light, general behaviour and cholesterol.
It found that the average cholesterol level was 222mg per deciliter of blood in men and 213 in women. If a patient's total blood cholesterol is between 200-239mg per deciliter, that reading is considered borderline high and means lifestyle changes are needed to avoid a heart attack, according to a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. A reading above 240 milligrams is considered high or in "the danger zone", the website said.
Among men studied, cholesterol levels increased on average by 3.9mg per deciliter of blood, peaking in December, and in women by 5.4mg, peaking in January.
In general the increases were greater in those who had elevated cholesterol levels to begin with. Nearly a quarter of those studied went above the 240 marker in the winter, the study said.
The report, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, said warmer weather in the summer and more activity probably contributes to a dilution of the blood cholesterol. Among other things exercise facilitates sodium and water retention, the report said.
The authors said it is possible that some people may be misdiagnosed with high cholesterol if measurements are taken in winter if the damage to arteries that high cholesterol does is based on an absolute amount, diluted or not.
But it said season-specific cholesterol guidelines are not warranted based on this study. The authors called for more research "to better understand the mechanism through which physical activity and temperature control systems could aid in the prevention of coronary heart disease, morbidity and mortality.
Researchers have linked vitamin D concentrations greater than 40 nmol/L with improved lower extremity function in ambulatory patients age 60 and older, regardless of calcium intake, activity level, sex, age, race or ethnicity.
In the past, vitamin D has been shown to maintain calcium homeostasis and improve bone density, lowering the risk of fractures. Results of this published survey suggest vitamin D bolsters muscle strength and function, therefore, decreasing the chance of falls that may lead to fractures.
Researchers examined the relationship between vitamin D levels and muscle strength and function in 4,100 subjects, about half men and half women, age 60 and older, with the mean age about 71.
Vitamin D--also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D--concentrations were measured in all participants, who were then classified into five groups, or quintiles, according to their vitamin D level. Participants also were classified by activity level. About 75 percent of them were active, meaning they had walked one mile without stopping, swam, jogged, bicycled, danced, exercised or gardened in the previous month. Those that had not, about one in four, were considered inactive. Researchers also controlled for calcium intake, sex, age, race and ethnicity.
Using a timed 8-foot walk test and a repeated sit-to-stand test, investigators assessed each subject's lower extremity functionality.
Subjects in the highest quintile of vitamin D concentration had a mean 5 percent decrease in time of 0.27 seconds in the 8-foot walk test compared to those in the lowest quintile. For the sit-to-stand test the highest quintile of participants had a mean 3.9 percent decrease of 0.67 seconds compared to the lowest group.
Therefore, researchers associated higher vitamin D concentration with improved lower extremity function. The best results were seen in subjects with levels from 22.5 to 40 nmol/L. Positive results were also seen in the 40-90 nmol/L range.
Researchers summarized that in both active and inactive subjects, those with higher concentrations have better musculoskeletal function. They noted that while concentrations of 40 nmol/L or greater are desirable for optimal function, concentrations as high as 100 nmol/L appear advantageous.
They went on to conclude that vitamin D supplementation may offer a way to improve lower-extremity function in both active and inactive elderly subjects.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition