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What You Need to Know About Sun Exposure

By Sara Butler

One of the best things about summer is being outside in the warmth, soaking up the sun. If you’re outside a lot in the summer, you will need to be ready to deal with the sun and the consequence of too much sun exposure -- sunburn. Here’s everything you need to know about sun exposure, and how to avoid sunburn.

You Need Sun Exposure

You can’t simply stay out of the sun all the time. Humans weren’t meant to live in caves and only come out at night. Your body needs the sun in order to produce Vitamin D, a very important nutrient that provides:

  • Support for cardiovascular health
  • Enhancement of muscle strength
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Healthy boost to the immune system
  • Strong bones and teeth

The trouble lies in finding the balance between not enough sun exposure and just enough. Too much sun can result in sunburn, an inflammatory response your body has from the overexposure of your skin to UVB rays of the sun.

How Much Sun is Safe?

If you want to reap the benefits of sun exposure without falling prey to the disadvantages then you need to know what safe sun exposure is. In order to get the most out of sun exposure in order for your body to produce Vitamin D, you need to expose large areas of your skin to the sun for about 20 minutes. When your skin begins to turn pink you’ve reached your limit!

There are a few factors that can influence how much sun exposure you’re getting in order to produce Vitamin D. They are:

  • Latitude and Altitude – The farther north you live, the less sun exposure you typically get. Also, the higher you are above sea level, the easier it is for the sun to reach you. This is why it’s easy to get sunburned whenever you’re up high in the mountains, even if it’s cold outside.
  • Weather – If it’s a cloudy day there will be less sun for you to soak up, and don’t forget that pollution, ozone, and smog can block out the needed rays too.
  • Sunscreen use – If you’re only outside to get exposure for Vitamin D production you probably don’t need sunblock. This is only if you plan on being outside for a short period of time – otherwise, use sunblock.

Remember, there’s no real benefit to staying outside beyond the 20 or so minutes you need to produce Vitamin D. The longer you are out in the sun, the higher your risk of sunburn. Be mindful that if you have a lighter complexion you will also burn easier!

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