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  • UV (Ultraviolet Rays) Safety Month
    Added by My Identity Doctor
    While I often mention “fun in the sun” on the blog, it’s important to note that sometimes ultraviolet, or UV, rays can be dangerous. Appropriately for all that fun in the sun, July is UV Safety Month. Ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun can cause a painful or warm-feeling sunburn, but its effects can be much more dangerous than that. Too much sun exposure, as you probably know, can cause skin cancer—the most well known is called melanoma, and 135,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US—you are most at risk of melanoma if you have fair skin, and endure short but intense sun exposure resulting in burns [1]. UV exposure can also result in cataracts, skin again, and immune system suppression, which can be of particular danger to people living with certain chronic diseases or those who already have immune system deficiencies [2]—so, it’s not just cancer we have to be worried about when it comes to the sun!
    While it is often said that vitamin D is absorbed from the sun—and this is true—you can meet your daily vitamin D requirements by spending about ten to fifteen minutes in the sun in the summer, and fifteen to thirty minutes in the winter [3]—certain foods and beverages can also provide needed vitamin D. As vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it is stored in your body’s fat cells to be processed, it is not recommended you take a vitamin D supplement unless your doctor has told you to—while the vitamins contained in “multivitamin” supplements are known as water soluble, meaning, any excess not needed by the body will be excreted through your urine, fat soluble vitamins can become toxic if too much is taken and stored within the body, leading to negative health consequences. Many older women are recommended to take calcium and vitamin D supplements to protect against osteoporosis at menopause, but, speak with a healthcare professional before supplementing—the “sunshine pill” might not be what your doctor recommends!
    So, what can protect you from UV rays while having fun in the sun? Play outdoors in the least sunny parts of the day—1 to 4 pm tend to be the hottest hours of the day. Wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, or 30 if you have fair skin or specific medical conditions. To learn more about choosing sunscreen, I recommend this article, highlighting that SPF only protects against UVB rays and which ingredients to look for that protect against UVA rays. Remember to apply at least 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply upon leaving the water or sweating excessively. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes, and wear long sleeves and pants (if you can tolerate it!). Infants under 6 months should be kept out of the sun completely, while infants over six months, toddlers, and children, should always wear child-friendly sunscreen of at least SPF 15 [4]. If you have skin reactions to sunscreen, seek the advice of a physician, either your family doctor or a dermatologist or pharmacist.
    Stay safe in the sun, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come—in moderation, of course!
    Published by My Identity Doctor on July 9, 2015

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