MY ACCOUNT

Sunshine

"Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you."

- Walt Whitman

Quick start tips for Getting More Sunshine

Sunshine. The bringer of life, herald of a new day, a fresh start. There is nothing quite like stretching out on soft summer grass with your face tilted towards the sun, its radiant beans gently warming your closed eyelids.

Without it, there would be no more photosynthesis. Plants would stop growing, an eternal night would descend over the planet, and Earth would transform into a ball of ice. Without the sun, there is no life. Yet how often do we take this star for granted or hide from its healing rays?

The sun is powerful medicine, more potent than any prescription. Unfortunately, however, it is misunderstood, feared, and even villainized. Contrary to public opinion, the sun is not the enemy! It is one of the greatest allies in your quest to achieve the 100 Year Heart.

Multiple studies have found that sun exposure lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, decreases cardiac disease, and even lowers the risk of death. Interestingly, the lowest rates of heart disease are typically found in sun-drenched locations.

In this article, we’ll examine the turbulent history of sunbathing, the dangers of sunscreen, and the benefits of pure, unfiltered sun for your heart health and overall well-being.

Sunshine at just the right time can help you achieve your

Sun Worship:

Where did we go wrong?

Our ancestors revered the sun. Recognizing its life-giving power, ancient agricultural societies held this star in a place of honor, knowing that the plants they depended on for survival wouldn’t grow without its revitalizing rays.

The Egyptians worshiped Ra, the sun god. The Greeks, Helios. Various Native American tribes timed dances and ceremonies around the cycle of the sun and the seasons. In the Christian bible, light was the first thing God created.

Truth: Without light, without the sun, there is no life.

For thousands of years, people paid homage to this great burning ball in the sky, developing various myths, religions, and ideologies around the energy, light, and warmth associated with the sun.

The rise and fall of heliotherapy

Ancient texts from over 3,000 years ago demonstrate that the sun’s healing power is far from a new concept. Egyptians, Indians, and other sun-centric cultures utilized sunshine in various medicinal regimens.

Then a few thousand years of negative press painted sunbathing in a different light. As a tanned complexion became associated with the lower class, people utilized whatever they could to keep their sun exposure to a minimum.

This tendency towards sun avoidance caused a severe outbreak of rickets in 17th century Europe. The Industrial Revolution and increased urbanization brought children away from the farm and into factories. This lack of sunshine, combined with poor diet and nutrient deficiencies, led to children with soft, weak bones, chronic pain, and delayed growth.

Sunshine is the most effective way to get vitamin D, which is essential for supporting the body, maintaining proper calcium and phosphorus levels in the bones, and preventing rickets.

In the 1800s, Danish doctor Neils Finsen started to notice the beneficial effects of the sun, primarily related to smallpox, lupus, and tuberculosis. His research paved the way for Auguste Rollier, a Swiss doctor who created sunbathing centers in the mountains of Switzerland nearly a century later.

His patients were safely exposed to sunlight and many saw an improvement in their conditions, especially those with tuberculosis of the skin.

During WWI, heliotherapy (the therapeutic use of sunlight) came into its own, with doctors on both sides of the war using it to treat various conditions such as lupus, cuts and scrapes, arthritis, burns, rickets, and tuberculosis. A tanned complexion was back in style. Researchers had discovered that the sun could boost immunity, help fight infection-causing germs, and even support heart health.

But not for long. Soon, antibiotics replaced the sun’s healing power, and scientists discovered the connection between UV exposure and melanoma. For nearly three-quarters of a century, this discovery has cultivated a fear of the sun. No longer is it seen as a source of life and health, but as something to be feared and avoided.

Uncovering the truth and harnessing the power of sunlight requires battling through modern medical fallacies and fighting decades of deep-seated sunshine mistrust.

The great sun controversy

Medical fallacies

Through time and continued research, these medical fallacies (and many more) have been proven ineffective and downright dangerous.

  • Cigarettes help reduce throat irritation.
  • Lobotomies are safe and effective.
  • Radioactive water could prevent aging.
  • Teething babies just need a dose of morphine to soothe them.
  • Dietary fat is deadly.

At one point, all of these were considered excellent solutions for common ailments and were prescribed by doctors around the world.

This glimpse into history shows that the medical establishment doesn’t always know best. In fact, blindly following what your doctor says could kill you.

Of course, modern medicine has developed the ability to save lives and put people back together when they are broken. However, you must always do research and strive to achieve a way of living that most closely aligns with the natural world and our ancient ancestors — ancestors with virtually none of the modern diseases we experience today.

Sunshine causes cancer...or does it?

Another modern medical fallacy is; sunshine exposure will kill you. Before digging into the incredible benefits of sunlight on the human body, it’s imperative to get that scary word out of the way…cancer. Many people, especially in the western world, slather themselves in sunscreen each day they go outside, spraying themselves with aerosolized chemicals as “protection” from the harmful effects of the sun.

The American Academy of Dermatology leaves no room for sun exposure, promoting a “comprehensive sun protection plan that includes seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing.”

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is real. Yes, you are exposed to low levels of UV radiation when you go outside. Experts believe that excessive sun exposure plays a role in skin cancer known as melanoma, as it can damage the DNA in cells, contributing to cancer development. The key word here is “excessive.”

However, certain studies support an association between high levels of intermittent sun exposure and a reduced risk of death from melanoma in patients who were diagnosed with this skin cancer. So what is the truth? Does sunshine cause cancer or reduce your risk of dying from cancer?

The risks of not going into the sun far outweigh the benefits of staying out of it. The majority of skin cancers caused by the sun are basal-cell carcinomas and squamous-cell carcinomas, which are rarely fatal. Melanoma (the deadly skin cancer) accounts for only 1 percent of skin cancer cases.

Generally, the risk of developing this dangerous skin cancer is much higher in those who are fair-skinned, have a history of severe, blistering sunburns, have a family history of melanoma, or have a weakened immune system.

So does this mean you should rigorously apply sunscreen, avoid the sun at all costs, and stay covered up when you go outside? Not even close.

Scientists have discovered that basking in the sun could help you live a longer and healthier life! The modern world is terrified of sun exposure due to cancer concerns. But this has created a culture afraid of sunshine. Have we gone too far in “protecting” ourselves from the sun? Are we facing a societal sunshine deficit?

Sunshine deficit = cardiovascular disease

The American Cancer Society estimates that under 8,000 people will die from melanoma in 2022. However, nearly 700,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease — that’s one in every four deaths. Staying indoors, remaining sedentary, and hiding from the sun could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, which is much more deadly than melanoma.

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine followed 30,000 Swedish women for 20 years and found that those who actively spent time in the sun lived six months to two years longer than those who avoided it.

The study revealed that the sun-seeking Swedes were at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who avoided sun exposure had a similar life expectancy to smokers who sunbathed. Avoiding the sun could have the same effect on life expectancy as smoking.

More research is needed to confirm this cause-and-effect relationship, but the results are promising and support the immense power of sunshine for human health.

We’ve been told for years to avoid the sun, but perhaps that medical paradigm is wrong. Indeed, you don’t want to get a sunburn. Burns damage our skin and DNA. However, regular exposure to the sun might not be as dangerous as we’ve believed. The real danger could be in avoiding sun exposure.

How sunshine improves heart function

While there is some evidence supporting the concerns of excessive sun exposure, there is even more evidence backing the incredible benefits of sunlight and how crucial daily sunshine is for proper bodily function. In fact, a report by the World Health Organization indicated that there might be more diseases caused by a lack of sunshine than by too much.

The rays of the sun are especially beneficial for the heart. Multiple studies have found that sun exposure lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, decreases cardiac disease, and even lowers the risk of death. Interestingly, the lowest rates of heart disease are typically found in sun-drenched locations. Perhaps this is why heart attack deaths are highest in January and lower in September.

Spending time in the sun can certainly help you achieve your 100 Year Heart.

1. Increases vitamin D

Most people have heard of vitamin D. This “sunshine vitamin” is more accurately a hormone. Our amazing bodies produce this hormone when the naked skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun.

Vitamin D can reduce inflammation in the body, support bone health, and improve the immune system. Studies have shown that a higher concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D leads to lower blood pressure. For every 10 percent increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D, researchers have found an 8.1 percent decrease in the risk of hypertension.

Your body creates vitamin D through a photosynthetic reaction when it is exposed to the sun, meaning time spent in the sunlight is critical for keeping your body functioning optimally. Vitamin D receptors are found throughout the heart and play a role in the health of the cardiovascular system.

Unfortunately, most people are deficient in vitamin D. A recent study found that individuals with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have heart disease than those with sufficient levels. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels had more than double the risk of heart disease.

It is estimated that 50 percent of the population experiences vitamin D deficiency. Indoor jobs, clothing, and sunscreen all contribute to this worldwide vitamin D crisis.

Today, people spend too much time indoors: not enough sunlight, not enough nature. We get up in the dark, ride to work, often stressed out in traffic, spend 8-9 hours in a building and return home in the dark. Others who are working from home are getting up, going straight to the home office, and barely seeing the light of day through the window.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

Reduced sun exposure related to changes in season and latitude has been connected with a 30 to 50 percent increase in mortality after adjusting for other lifestyle considerations.

Though some supplements could help with vitamin D deficiency, there is no replacement for adequate, regular sunshine exposure.

Dietary Vitamin D

Eating a heart-healthy diet full of vitamin D-rich oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, and animal products such as eggs help support your vitamin D levels and work in conjunction with regular sun exposure. Mushrooms also contain a form of vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 Sources

The Sun

Fish, Liver and Eggs

D3 Supplements

Fact:

75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D3.

You are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency if you are pregnant, dark-skinned, elderly, or obese.

2. Boosts nitric oxide production

While many know about the benefits of vitamin D, few have heard of nitric oxide (NO). Human skin contains nitrate, and when exposed to UVA sun rays, this nitrate is released into the blood, becoming nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, playing a critical role in lowering blood pressure. Additionally, nitric oxide regulates blood sugar.

Lives are busy, we don’t get outside as much as we should, we work too much and when we do go out, we wear sunscreen. But sunshine and nature are medicine and ignoring this leads to poor health and high blood pressure.

Dr. Jack Wolfson

A study from the University of Edinburgh suggests that sunbathing contributes to nitric oxide in the body. In this study, participants’ blood pressure dropped significantly following two 20-minute sunbathing sessions under UV light. Lower blood pressure means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, leading to a healthier heart and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

In addition, preliminary studies have found that exposure to UVB rays may inhibit the development and progression of atherosclerosis, arterial plaque build-up.

High blood pressure and heart disease contribute to 80 times more deaths in the UK than skin cancer, according to the researchers. This study reveals that the real villain isn’t skin cancer but heart disease.

While our bodies produce some nitric oxide, it’s not typically enough to keep the cardiovascular system running smoothly. Nitrates can also be obtained from food, such as beetroot and dark leafy green vegetables.

Natural Heart Doctor Logo

The impact of sunlight on your health

Sunrise

At sunrise, when the sun’s rays hit your skin and eyes, they activate your body’s hormone production. In response to the morning sunlight, the activity of the stress hormone cortisol is toned down.

Morning Sun

During the later morning, ultraviolet light reaches the surface of your skin and eyes. This turns off your body’s hormone production. Ultraviolet light through your eyes activates neurotransmitters which make you feel good.

the Sun at noon

Afternoon sun can produce Vitamin D. To make Vitamin D in your skin, avoid sunscreen. Move out of the sun before getting sunburned, though.

Evening Sun

During the evening, the ultraviolet light of the sun no longer reaches your eyes and skin. Infrared and visible light rays, however, still reach you. These rays are to increase your energy, detox, relax, and improve your skin.

Nighttime

At nighttime there should be no light in your environment. In response to several hours of darkness, your body starts to wake up around 4 am. The stress hormone cortisol is activated to wake you up.

Share This!

Other Life-saving Benefits of the sun

That yellow star in the sky doesn’t just support your heart; it directly impacts every aspect of health and is crucial for a long, vibrant life.

1. Boosts Your Mood

From a purely psychological perspective, the sun just feels good. However, there is a physiological reason that the sun makes you smile. Bare skin exposure to sunlight increases serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood and invokes a sense of calm and peace.

The sun also stimulates the skin to make beta-endorphins that naturally reduce stress. In our anxiety-laden world, beta-endorphins help combat the stress hormones that cause vasoconstriction and lead to high blood pressure.

The sun is a natural antidote to the pervasive stress in our society. It can help reduce anxiety, depression, and cortisol-related inflammation.

If you’ve ever lived in a cold environment that forces you to spend lots of time indoors in the winter, you may have experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This common condition is directly influenced by a lack of sunshine. If you suffer from SAD, you will often feel hopeless and depressed during the shorter days of winter and fall.

When your body doesn’t get enough sunlight, you often don’t produce enough vitamin D or serotonin, which are both contributing factors in the development of SAD. On the other hand, regular sunshine can help combat these negative effects and keep you feeling positive throughout the winter.

2. Helps you sleep

Melatonin production and the circadian rhythm are directly related to light (or lack thereof). When you get sunlight during the day, your nocturnal melatonin production occurs sooner, which means that you will start to get sleepy when the sun goes down. Morning sunlight can help prevent insomnia and lead to better quality sleep.

Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin; it is transformed into the sleep hormone when it starts to get dark outside. Higher serotonin levels during the day (from sunshine) lead to higher melatonin levels at night. Studies have shown that intentional sunshine exposure could improve melatonin production in older adults struggling with sleep disorders.

Better sleep also means better heart health and lower cardiovascular disease risk.

3. Improves bone health

Low vitamin D levels lead to weak bones and muscles and can contribute to diseases like rickets and osteoporosis. Evidence suggests that unfiltered exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the sun directly impacts vitamin D production. Vitamin D allows for more effective calcium absorption, which is critical for bone health.

4. Benefits skin health

Remember heliotherapy? The most astonishing benefits of this unique medical practice were directly related to skin conditions. Modern research backs these historical results, and the World Health Organization promotes UV therapy for skin conditions such as psoriasis. It could also help with eczema, jaundice, and even acne.

What About Wrinkles?

Many people slather on sunscreen and stay out of the sun because they are concerned about wrinkles. Of course, no one wants to contribute to the inevitable effects of aging, but is the sun really to blame?

Excessive UV radiation can cause damage to the delicate skin of the face, leading to fine lines and wrinkles, along with brown spots and a loss of skin elasticity. 15 minutes a day is unlikely to cause these adverse effects, and any damage can be prevented by wearing safe, organic sunscreen on your face and a hat whenever you plan to be in the sun for a long period.

Remember, eating a healthy, antioxidant-rich diet, getting quality sleep, exercising regularly, and not smoking can all help you fight free radicals and retain your youthful glow.

Why You Should Sunbathe Naked

"Your skin is a solar panel."

- Dr. Jack Wolfson

While any sun exposure is valuable, there may be additional benefits to sunbathing in the buff. Most obviously, sunbathing naked allows more exposure to the sun’s rays, thus increasing the amounts of vitamin D, nitric oxide, and serotonin that the body can release.

It’s not only your lungs that need fresh air. Sunbathing nude allows your skin to breathe. The hot sun increases body temperature. Restrictive clothing, such as a tight bathing suit, can cause excessive sweating. While sweating is excellent for releasing toxins, clothing absorbs them. The skin can then reabsorb the toxins. It’s better to sweat it off naked.

Stripping down may provide additional benefits for men. Sunlight plays a role in testosterone production. Studies have found that an hour of sunshine can significantly boost a man’s testosterone. Since the vast majority of testosterone is produced in the testicles, it stands to reason sun exposure to the testes and scrotal skin might enhance hormone production.

Nude sunbathing may also offer healing benefits for females. Bathing suits (and underwear) trap heat and moisture, creating an ideal environment for bacterial or fungal growth. Allowing all parts of the body to see the sunshine may enhance health.

Americans spend less time in the sun today than ever, yet chronic illness is at its highest levels. Sadly, we are missing out on an incredible, free health remedy right in our own backyards. Exposing your bare skin to the power of the sun has benefits beyond a great sun-kissed tan. Sun exposure reduces stress, improves sleep, and even lowers blood pressure. So don that birthday suit and get outside!

Will I get arrested if I sunbathe nude?

Here at Natural Heart Doctor, we are all about stress reduction. So the last thing that we want is to advise you to do something that gets you in trouble, thus raising your stress levels and contributing to high blood pressure.

For those who have a private and safe place to sunbathe in the buff, go for it! However, for those who do not, simply bare as much as makes you (and others) comfortable. A few excellent companies make swimwear that allows the sun’s rays to make their way through. This way, you are protected but not hidden from the sun’s beneficial rays.

Tips for sunbathing safely

(and Effectively)

Get unfiltered morning sun

UV rays from the sun are strongest when the sun is at the peak of the sky from approximately 10 am to 2 pm. While this may be the optimal time to get the most sun, it also could be the most dangerous in terms of sunburn risks, especially in the summer.

In the summer, stick to sunbathing in the morning when the UV radiation is less concentrated to avoid sunburn. Watching the sunrise is a great way to get healthy sun exposure while you set your mindful intentions for the day and sip a relaxing cup of tea or coffee.

In the winter when the sun is weaker, make sure to get outdoors in the afternoon to ensure vitamin D production.

Skip the sunglasses

It’s not just your skin that should be naked – your eyes should be too! The sun emits thousands of wavelengths of light that are incredibly beneficial to the naked eye.

The endocrine system, the part of the body responsible for the production and balance of hormones, relies heavily on sunlight exposure. For example, sunlight exposure in the morning slows the body’s melatonin production, increasing alertness and helping you feel more awake.

The health benefits of sunlight on the naked are still being discovered. So while sunglasses are not harmful in moderation, be sure to take them off and allow the sun’s rays to hit your naked eyes.

Consider your location

Depending on your latitude and altitude, exposure to the sun’s UV rays may vary. If you live closer to the equator or higher in altitude, you may need to adjust your time in the sun to accommodate or take a supplement or use a sun lamp during the time of year when sunlight is weak.

Invest in a sun lamp

Sometimes, life can keep you from getting out in the sun. We get it. Winter weather, work schedules, and city-dwelling can make finding a pocket of sunshine difficult. If that’s the case, invest in a light therapy box to keep in your home.

These boxes mimic natural sunlight and are a great tool for cloudy, cold days. Keep in mind; light therapy boxes shouldn’t replace getting natural sunshine whenever possible.

Follow the fifteen-minute rule

Though the time required in the sun for optimal health will vary based on several factors such as altitude, latitude, and pigmentation, 15 minutes of sun per day is a great place to start. Regardless of skin tone, 15 minutes isn’t usually enough to cause a sunburn or sun damage, and it will allow you to reap incredible benefits. Skip the sunscreen during this window to allow your skin to soak in vitamin D.

Stay consistent

Sunbathing isn’t just a summer activity, nor should it be something you save for your tropical vacation. Studies show that outdoor workers with consistent sun exposure develop protective tans throughout the year that reduce their risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

Human skin tone is designed to vary between seasons. However, when you spend much of the year indoors and then suddenly expose yourself to a day of intense sun at the beach, your pale skin cannot effectively protect you from the intense UV index. Consistent, safe sun exposure throughout the year is the best way to remain as close to your natural state as possible.

Exercise outdoors

What is even better than sitting in the sun? Exercising in it! The fresh air, sunlight, and movement will do wonders for your health. Skip the toxic gym and go for a walk, jog, or hike outdoors. Gardening or golfing are other great activities that will get you in the sun and off the couch.

“Can you commit to spending more time outside? Many of us are working from home and it can be as simple as moving your office to the patio, eating outside, and/or setting an alarm to run around the neighborhood every so often.”

- Dr. Jack Wolfson

What About Sunscreen?

Speaking of sunscreen, this controversial topic can be thoroughly confusing. Sunburn is bad and can contribute to skin cancer risk, but you might have heard that sunscreen isn’t healthy either. How are you supposed to protect yourself and your family? It’s time to bust the sunscreen myths once and for all.

There are two types of sunscreen. Physical and chemical. Chemical sunscreens contain chemicals that leech into the water, coral reefs, fish, and your body. This type of sunscreen absorbs UV rays, while physical sunblocks actually reflects them.

One study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says, “Studies have identified UV filters such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, and ethylhexyl salicylate in almost all water sources around the world and have commented that these filters are not easily removed by common wastewater treatment plant techniques. Additionally, in laboratory settings, oxybenzone has been implicated specifically as a possible contributor to coral reef bleaching.

Not only do these chemicals leach into the environment, but high SPF sunscreens could also keep your body from absorbing vitamin D effectively.

Harmful chemicals to avoid:

  • PABA esters
  • Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
  • Cinnamates
  • PABA esters
  • Salicylates
  • Digalloyl trioleate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Avobenzone
  • Octocrylene
  • Octinooxate

These chemicals, common in sunscreen, have been linked to numerous conditions, particularly hormone disruption, infertility, and excessive estrogren production.

“If you cannot pronounce the ingredient, don’t use it.”

– Dr. Jack Wolfson

Aerosol sunscreens are a whole separate issue. Do you really want harmful, toxic chemicals in your lungs? Because that is what happens when you use spray sunscreen. Plus, many sunscreens are not regulated and contain ingredients that are not safe for inhalation.

Though melanoma has long been associated with sunshine, recent evidence suggests that wearing sunscreen could actually increase your chances of developing skin cancer. This is potentially due to the false sense of protection that sunscreen provides, causing many sunscreen users to spend far too much time uncovered in the sun.

Safe sun protection alternatives

Mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens, unlike chemical sunscreens, are effective and safe. These sunscreens sit on top of the skin and work to naturally shield the body and deflect harmful rays from sun exposure. Safe minerals include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Remember, some sun exposure (around 15 minutes a day for light skin) should be without any sun protection to allow beneficial rays to penetrate your skin. If you plan to spend an extended time in the sun during the hottest part of the day, choose an organic, zinc-based mineral sunscreen and apply a light layer over your exposed skin.

How much sun exposure is appropriate for you will depend on your pigmentation and your history of skin concerns. Any sunscreen you purchase should always be organic and fragrance-free from a reputable source.

Natural “sunscreen alternatives” such as coconut oil, aloe vera, and shea butter provide minimal protection from the sun and shouldn’t be relied on when you plan to be in the sun for long periods. However, these natural methods are safe to use during your intentional morning sunbathing and could provide antioxidant benefits without interfering with vitamin D absorption.

Sun-protective clothing

When you plan to be outside for a long time on a sunny day, forgo the bathing suit and cover up with a layer of light clothing. Organic linen clothing is a great choice as it will keep you cool and help reduce the chance of sunburn. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck.

Vitamin D Supplements:

Are they safe or effective?

Standard sun guidelines from various health institutions insist on zero unprotected sun exposure. Naturally, following these recommendations will eventually lead to a severe vitamin D deficiency. The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Association support dietary vitamin D and supplements over vitamin D from the sun.

The truth is, sunlight is the best possible way to give your body what it needs to produce vitamin D. Dietary sources don’t contain enough vitamin D to replace the sun and unregulated supplement use could prove more harmful than helpful.

In fact, a large study showed that vitamin D supplementation does not affect cancer or cardiovascular disease risk.

Many people overdo it with vitamin D supplements, taking more than the recommended amount and overloading their body with vitamin D. This could lead to a calcium buildup (hypercalcemia) and vitamin D toxicity, which can contribute to bone pain and kidney problems.

There is no risk of your body absorbing too much vitamin D from the sun — it will take in no more than necessary. The body is an incredible machine. When given what it needs, it is capable of health without intervention.

Appropriate vitamin D supplementation can be effective if you live in a climate that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine in the winter or if you have darker skin and need more sunlight to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

However, get a test to determine if you are actually deficient in vitamin D before beginning any supplementation. Rather than just taking supplements blindly, it is essential to understand what is happening in your body.

If you find out you have a vitamin D deficiency, first get outside in the sun. If your levels are still low, consider supplementing with an amount recommended by your natural health doctor.

Always buy supplements from a safe, reputable source.

Melanin matters:

How skin tone affects sun exposure

Individuals with fair complexions are more likely to experience sunburns, while those with darker complexions are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Studies suggest that people with highly pigmented skin require five times more prolonged sun exposure to generate the same amount of vitamin D as those with less-pigmented skin. These individuals also have a significantly lower risk of developing melanoma from the sun.

Humans evolved to adapt to their environments. Ancient people in sunny places close to the equator produced higher melanin levels, which resulted in a darker complexion. This complexion acts as a natural sunscreen to protect against intense UV rays. On the flip side, those further from the equator had paler skin that allowed for vitamin D production from the sun’s weak rays.

However, the American Academy of Dermatology does not take skin color into account, recommending sun avoidance at all times for unprotected skin.

Remember, sun exposure is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. While we have recommended 15 minutes of unfiltered sun exposure, this is a minimum requirement and will vary greatly. Get to know your skin type and learn how much sun you need to stay healthy and feel great.

Humans survived for hundreds of generations without sunscreen. Why? Because they naturally produced enough melanin and spent consistent time in the sun. They didn’t need it!

Modern habits and fears of sun exposure have seriously tweaked our understanding of the sun. It isn’t something to be feared. But rather praised! Don’t try to make up for your lack of sunshine all at once though. Sunbathing should begin gradually to avoid sunburn. 

Increase exposure over time and consider your skin tone when deciding how much unfiltered sunlight is right for you.

There is no risk of your body absorbing too much vitamin D from the sun — it will take in no more than necessary. The body is an incredible machine. When given what it needs, it is capable of health without intervention.

Appropriate vitamin D supplementation can be effective if you live in a climate that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine in the winter or if you have darker skin and need more sunlight to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

Natural Heart Doctor Logo

vitamin d and skin pigmentation

Darker Skin

  • Less likely to sunburn
  • More likely to be Vitamin D deficient

Lighter Skin

  • More likely to sunburn
  • Less likely to be Vitamin D deficient

Share This!

The problem with sunburn

The beneficial UVB rays that allow you to make vitamin D are the same rays that can burn your skin when you stay outside for too long. Severe sunburn, especially childhood sunburn, has been associated with increased melanoma risk. This risk compounds with each sunburn you get.

Therefore, it is critical to be safe and smart in the sun. Moderate sun exposure is amazing and life-giving. Just make sure you don’t burn.

The scary truth about tanning beds

You might hit the tanning bed before a beach trip or a formal event to get that “sunkissed glow,” but the truth is, a tanning bed is not the same as the sun. Tanning beds emit three times more UV rays than the sun. These high concentrations of potentially harmful radiation can lead to skin cancer and DNA damage.

Becoming a Sun Lover

Reclaiming the benefits of the sun begins with adjusting your mindset and giving a little gratitude to the burning star at the center of our solar system.

Don’t let fears of skin cancer keep you out of the sunshine. The benefits of appropriate daily sun exposure are incredible and pose minimal risk. It’s all about balance. Yes, you shouldn’t go out uncovered and unprotected during the hottest part of the day, but you also shouldn’t hide from the sun, as its life-giving powers are well proven.

Just a few minutes basking in the sun each day will contribute to an improved mood, increased immunity, lower blood pressure, and your 100 Year Heart.

Medical Review: Dr. Jack Wolfson, 2022

NHD Patient Application Form

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATURAL HEART DOCTOR NEWSLETTER

Join our community by subscribing to the free, Natural Heart Doctor Newsletter. You'll receive great natural health news delivered right to your inbox.
Join 30,000+ subscribers.
It’s completely free.