Sunscreen and Vitamin D: A Natural Approach
Updated: Sep 26
A popular and controversial topic especially in NZ!
(A reminder that I am not a trained medical professional, and this post is not to be taken as health advice or as a definitive guide. I am merely sharing my own thoughts and encourage you all to make an informed decision!)
While my family no longer uses chemical based sunscreens, we still respect the intensity of our sun while recognising the health benefits from moderate exposure from regular small doses. There is no question that we want to prevent the skin from burning and being mindful.
Vitamin D is a hormone produced when our skin is exposed to sunshine - one of many hormones our body needs to stay well. Among its many functions, it works with minerals to support strong and healthy bones as well as immunity. The only way we can generate Vitamin D is through sun exposure, but we can also influence levels through diet and supplements.
Aim for daily short bursts of sun exposure during off-peak times: earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. The idea is to slowly and safely build a gentle tan - any kind of pink means too much sun, too quickly.
Incorporate a protective mix of bamboo and cotton clothing, hats, sunglasses and chemical free sunscreen as well as sitting in the shade (being mindful it's still possible to burn). We aren't a family that typically spends much time outside in the middle of the day anyway which helps.
Incorporating nutrient dense real foods on a regular basis with a focus on increasing dietary fats especially animal fats such as extra virgin cod liver oil, and vastly reducing sugars - this has been a very positive influence for us.
Supplementing with Vitamin D outside of the summer months especially if a blood test has shown levels are low.
Supplementing with Magnesium is also thought to bring up Vitamin D levels.
Suggestions for supplementing Vitamin D
Innate Response D3 (5,000 IU)
Some sun creams can trigger reactivity in the skin
Which is the case for many of my eczema prone clients, so you may want to also consider:
The homeopathic sun support remedy 'Sol' - your homeopath can help you here.
Supplementing with the antioxidant Astaxanthin is thought to help prevent sunburn from the inside out.
Recommended natural sun creams for the family
In addition to completely blocking off sun exposure which may adversely affect Vitamin D production, I question some of the ingredients of standard sunscreens especially when eczema is already involved. Be wary of marketing claims - some brands don't disclose a full list of ingredients due to shortfalls in labeling guidelines and do check with the EWG database regarding any ingredients you're unsure about.
Even with the most prudent management unless you spend every single minute indoors, there will likely be times when sunscreen will be necessary, so here is a selection of brands I'd suggest you look into!
Badger SPF35+ Face Stick (great for sport, school bags etc)
RESOURCES Find out more information on Vit D deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how it relates to your health: