The US Food & Drug Administration has issued a final rule on the labeling of sunscreen products. The regulation says that sunscreen products which pass the FDA’s test for protection against both UVA and UVB rays may be labeled as “Broad Spectrum”. Both UVA and UVB radiation contribute to sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging, but sunburn is primarily caused by UVB radiation. Only products that are labeled Broad Spectrum and have SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed. In addition, they “recommend that consumers protect themselves…..not only should consumers regularly apply and reapply sunscreens…, they should also limit sun exposure”.

I believe the last statement begs the question, how safe is it to apply and reapply sunscreen chemicals? Additionally, how does limiting exposure to sunlight effect production of Vitamin D. While the FDA states that sunscreen chemicals do not penetrate the skin and therefore has no reason to believe these products are not safe for consumer use, many researchers would disagree saying that chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are indeed absorbed through the skin. Ingesting adequate amounts of Vitamin D from your diet is nearly impossible. Use of sunscreens and limiting sunlight exposure further complicates the problem. Vitamin D is essential to maintaining a strong immune system.

What is one to do? My mother always cautioned me, “moderation in all things”. Sensible sun exposure, in moderation, is very important for good health. Limit sunscreen use and your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Supplement your diet with 1000-2000U of a good Vitamin D product.

Living involves risk. But let’s be sensible about how those risks are mitigated!

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