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Saturday, April 30, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Ultraviolet

One of the most annoying phrases I hear is: "The sun's harmful rays". The sun is not harmful, in fact, the sun's rays are the foundation for virtually all life on our planet. If it is one thing the sun is not, it is harmful.

The usual story you hear about the sun is that it causes skin cancer and you should protect yourself from the damage it causes to your skin. The only way to safely live on this earth is to use sunblock every single day. If you go on the official webpage for the American Academy for Dermatology they recommend using sunblock every day even if you do not leave your house.

There is a well established connection between getting sunburned and skin cancer, but wearing sunblock in your house? It just doesn't make any sense. How did humans survive for millions of years without sunblock and houses? To me it's obvious that the sun is getting a real bad rap.


The first clues I got in questioning the party line when it comes to sun exposure and sunblock came as an afterthought after I decided to eat primal. I have very light skin that always has burned very easily. As a Scandinavian transplant in Southern California I get a lot more sun exposure than I am used to and have had more than my share of sunburns to go with it. The first summer after I went primal I noticed that I didn't burn nearly as easily as I had before. This was quite a surprise and not an effect I could easily explain.

With much greater tolerance for the sun, I also started to enjoy being outside in warm sunlight a lot more. From growing up in Norway I am well aware of the importance of sun exposure in producing enough vitamin D in the body. As a child I would take cod liver oil through most of the year. Cod liver oil is supremely high in vitamin D and was considered essential in maintaining good health through the dark winter months back home. As I started spending more time unprotected in the sun I noticed many of the same health benefits. More energy and a feeling of greater strength as well as a better mood.

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem. In part this is because we are getting heavier, but the increasing use of sunblock is not helping. Sunblock reduces the amount of vitamin D our skin produces when hit by sunlight. Ironically, the campaign against the sun is creating an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. But it gets better, there is some evidence that appropriate amounts of sun exposure actually helps fight cancer.

Now, before you get too excited, it is important to keep in mind that getting sunburned really is not good. It should be obvious to anyone that has had a bad sunburn that it is not something the body appreciates. The sun can damage your skin if you are not careful.

The list of ingredients in sunblock reads like a chemist's shopping list. It's basically a cocktail of chemicals that we are supposed to smear all over our skin. Preferably every day. However there is no scientific consensus on sunscreen actually being beneficial. In addition to potential vitamin D deficiency, sunblock use can encourage spending more time in the sun while not providing full sun protection.

I take advantage of my newfound tolerance for sunshine and have almost completely stopped using sunblock. Instead I go inside or put on clothes when I can tell my sun has had enough sun.

But how did my natural diet increase my resistance to sunburns? It seems it is a nice side effect of increased omega3 consumption. One of the effect of going to a natural diet is improved omega3/omega6 balance in the food. Along with taking fish oil daily this apparently has made my skin a lot more suited for the sunny environment I now live in.

Don't let the sun scare you, if you are sensible about it playing in the sun can only be beneficial.



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