Completely Avoiding the Sun is not healthy

In the previous sections, the dangers of UV radiation exposure have been clearly explained and expounded upon. However, total avoidance of the sun can also lead to negative consequences. That is, there are health benefits to be had from exposure to sunlight.

The Relationship between Sunlight (UV-light) and Vitamin D


You need UV rays in order to produce vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone loss, a possible compromised immune system and can even increase your risk for cancer. According to experts, in order for the body to produce adequate levels of vitamin D, you should expose your face, arms, hands or back to the sun for ten to fifteen minutes at least two times per week without sunscreen. If you are higher on the skin type chart, that is if your skin is darker, you may require a little more exposure time.

Fortunately, exposure to the sun is not the only way to get your recommended daily dose of vitamin D (which is 400 IU, FYI). You can get 100% of your vitamin D from food and/or supplements. Some foods high in vitamin D include: Fish sources such as salmon, tuna, sardines or mackerel; Dairy sources such as milk (usually “fortified” with vitamin D), cheese or butter; and other sources such as from beef liver, eggs, or ready-to-eat cereals.

Getting the recommended levels (and more) of vitamin D may also provide additional health and longevity benefits. According to current research, benefits can include reducing risk of cancer and other diseases.

If you would prefer to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, it’s probably best to expose your hands, legs or back to the sun in the time frame given above. Because your face and neck tend to age faster and are more visible, you should keep them well protected.
 

Therapeutic Use of UV-light and skin conditions


Another positive side of UV rays is when it is recommended as a therapeutic alternative in treatment of such conditions as psoriasis and eczema. Always use this therapy under the guidance of a physician.
 

Daylight and its Mental Effects


Keeping your skin protected from the sun does not mean keeping yourself away from daylight. Studies have shown that lack of exposure to bright light disturbs normal sleep-wake cycles and could lead to insomnia and/or depression. Those conditions are not caused by the lack of the skin exposure to UV radiation, but rather lack of eye exposure to daylight. Therefore, as long as you continue your practice of proper sun protection, you can receive sufficient daylight exposure without the associated skin damage. In some people, lack of exposure to bright light may disturb normal sleep-wake cycle leading to insomnia and depression.

It’s common knowledge that sun damage is the number one factor in skin cancer and in the aging of the skin. In fact, in the three decades from 1973 to 2003, the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, rose by 81 percent.
Ultraviolet rays are divided into three separate categories and have different effects upon our bodies. Those three are: UVA, UVB and UVC rays- often written as UVA, UVB, and UVC. There are varying theories about UV radiation, but most experts agree that only type UVA and UVB rays can reach the Earth and are, therefore, harmful to our skin. UVC rays, while also dangerous, cannot get through the ozone layer to the Earth.
During peak sun hours use window blinds or shades to block out direct exposure. If you can, try to arrange your workspace and sitting areas not to be too close to the windows. These areas will best serve you away from direct sunlight. As you get further away from a window, UVA rays decrease significantly. Therefore, it makes the most sense to avoid spending too much time close to the windows- especially if you have large windows.
Sunscreens come in creams, sprays, gels, lotions, sticks, and ointments. Although a higher SPF number provides better protection, it does not necessarily increase the length of time you can be exposed to the sun.
The first step in finding and choosing the best sunscreen for you is to choose a product that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is, the better the sunblock, the stronger its ability to provide you with a high degree of protection against sunburn, skin aging, and skin cancer.