The classic song Everybody’s Free taught us to always wear sunscreen. That’s actually very bad advice. We need sunlight to survive for several reasons.
But like most of us don’t get enough sleep, we don’t get enough natural light from the sun either. Doctors and dermatologists keep telling us to stay out of the sun and put poisonous sunscreen on our skins to protect ourselves.
They told us to stay out of the sun.
I mean, humans have evolved living under the sun for a few million years.
So, what could go wrong?
— P. D. Mangan 🇺🇸 (@Mangan150) December 16, 2019
Humans have evolved living under the sun for a few million years. Our ancestors were outside all day, getting lots of this free source of light and heat.
Sunlight is good for humans in several different ways:
- It’s an important zeitgeber for our circadian rhythm.
- Our skin needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, the only vitamin that can’t be retracted from foods.
- Viruses can get killed with UV light.
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It improves our moods and can even solve depression, making a big difference in mental health.
You never hear about all these ways that the sun improves our health. Instead they tell us to avoid the sun because Big Pharma has to sell their creams.
So you have to get enough sun for several reasons. I know this is a problem in lots of countries, as I am from Netherlands myself. How can you do this? The fact that the sun is good for us doesn’t mean that you should expose yourself all day.
You need safe sun exposure. Our skins are antifragile, meaning they will get stronger from stress in small amounts (hormesis). If your skin can handle 15 minutes of sun exposure today it will get stronger afterwards and can probably handle 16 minutes tomorrow.
But too much stress can be damaging. Therefore, you should aim for moderate sun exposure based on your personal situation. Sunburn is a good cue to go by; as long as you don’t burn you didn’t cross your limits.
Sunburns should be avoided because they are associated with skin cancer. The amount of sun exposure can vary greatly according to time of day, season, latitude, clothing and skin color. So you have to test it yourself. Furthermore, a diet including vegetable oils is associated with skin problems such as sunburn and wrinkles.
If you live somewhere you can’t get the minimal amount of daily sun exposure, you might want to supplement vitamin D.