Can Supplements Prevent Sunburn?

Summer is here and along with summer comes sunburns, that we all hate.  We’ve been told for years to slather on the sunscreen, but still a long day at the beach on on the lake you still end up pink.  So wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop a few pill and skip the sunburn?

Lets talk for a minute about what makes up the sun, or at least the part that causes damage and pain. Those are the ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types UVA and UVB:

  • UVA – These are the UV rays which cause damage to the skin. Think of UVA as UV-Aging. These cause can lead to cancer, dried out leathery skin, etc. These don’t cause the burn though.
  • UVB – These are the UV rays which cause burning, so think of UVB as UV-Burning. UVB rays also cause the conversion of cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D.

Ok, so now a bit about sunscreen. Many sunscreens just block the UVB rays, so they prevent the burning but also block the production of vitamin D, but they don’t block the UVA rays, so the rays which can damage the cells and possibly cause skin cancer get right in.  So when you shop for a sunscreen make sure it is a full spectrum sunscreen that blocks both the UVA and UVB rays.

OK, so about that magic pill that prevents sunburn.  Sadly there isn’t a pill that will totally prevent sunburn, but there are a number of vitamins that have been shown to lessen the burning. So you may still burn, but not as bad. These are:

  • Beta Caroteen – Beta Caroteen is found in high concentrations in carrots – that is what gives carrots their orange color. Many supplements will also use beta carotene as their source of vitamin A.  Your body can break down beta carotene to make vitamin A as it needs it without the risk of too much vitamin A. This, like all those that follow isn’t a morning after pill. It takes 10 to 12 weeks of daily supplementation to reduce the redness and burning.
  • Lutein and Lycopene are carotenoids that also show some protection. Lutein especially for the eyes. (Make sure your sunglasses block UV rays, not all do.)
  • Astaxanthin – This is another carotenoid that is found in krill and salmon giving them their red color. (Note only wild caught salmon have high levels of this. Farm raised salmon (often called Atlantic or Norwegian salmon) are fed feeds which don’t contain astaxanthin, so they add red dye to the salmon’s feed to make the flesh red. Yech.  This works quicker, within a week or two of daily consumption (salmon or astaxanthin supplements)
  • Coco flavanols – Yep, chocolate has been shown to reduce redness from UV exposure in women, though I bet it would work for men too. Unflortunaely eating a handful of Hershey Kisses won’t work (well maybe a bag full) but the chocolate you reach for has much more fat, sugar, and milk that actual chocolate. Instead reach for a 90-100% dark chocolate. My favorite is the Lindt 99% chocolate (hard to find in the US, but you can find the 90 and 95%)
  • Vitamin C and vitamin E – when taken together in high doses daily. One study found that 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol – the natural form) taken daily for 8 days modestly reduced redness caused by UV light – Equivalent to SPF 2. Note that these higher doses can cause problems for some people. A top rated multi vitamin has 1,300mg of Vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E and this is well tolerated by most people. So take that daily for a base, then jump up to the higher levels before you head to Bali – just make sure you don’t have any side effects (common is diarrhea from vitamin C)
  • Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®, Flavangenol®) has been found in clinical studies to significantly increase the amount of simulated UV-radiation required to cause redness and skin damage, as well as reduce measures of skin damage caused by UV exposure. It has also been found to decrease the color of age spots in healthy young women.

Some supplements like St John’s Wort and dong quai (found in some menopause supplements) can increase photosensitivity, so avoided these if you are going out in the sun.

The big fear is skin cancer. Maintaining optimal  levels of vitamin D and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancers.   This leads to the vitamin D paradox – You need sun to naturally produce vitamin D and vitamin D has been shown to reduce the incidence of many types of cancer, including skin cancers. (Here is an article about vitamin D and its role in skin cancer)  Applying a high SPF sunscreen before going in the sun blocks that production, so you lose that protection.  So go out for 20 minutes or so, then apply sunscreen.  The recommendations above may help lessen the redness and damage and help a bit when you forget to reapply sunscreen. If you’re in and out of the water all day, or sweating and wiping your face, you just forget or can’t keep reapplying sunscreen. Here is an article that explains how sunscreens work and SPF ratings.

So what do I do?  I take our USANA Essentials and Visonex daily.  These provide high levels of most of the vitamins and carotenoids above. I’m not one that tans easily and I run for an hour daily usually around noon plus all the other Colorado outdoor activities, skiing, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, etc. I live in Colorado so high altitude and lots of reflection from the snow in the winter and water in the summer. I rarely use sunscreen unless I’m out all day, then usually just one application around noon. I can’t remember the last sunburn I’ve had.

Enjoy the sun and the water this summer!

 

Feds to Withdraw Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Warnings

You’ve probably seen the news – the US Government is soon to remove all warnings about dietary cholesterol and saturated fat being harmful. Does that mean you can have eggs and bacon for breakfast every day and steak for dinner? Yes, sort of, if you chose your eggs, bacon, and beef properly.

Why was cholesterol demonized?

Lets take a look back at history.  Researchers back 40 years ago found that the plaque in arteries, which could cause a heart attack, had LDL cholesterol in them. So the conclusion was made that the LDL cholesterol is what caused plaque and heart attacks.  Then came Pfizer’s Lipitor and other statin drugs to reduce cholesterol and 40 years of cholesterol phobia.

Looking at just one little fact raised my doubts about this logic many years ago – That is over 50% of those people admitted to the ER for heart attacks had normal or low cholesterol levels.  So if high cholesterol caused heart attacks, then you should see very few people with low cholesterol levels having heart attacks, but that really had little to do with it.

If you also look at where the source of cholesterol in your body comes from, it isn’t so much the food you eat, but what your body makes. Cholesterol is a critical molecule in your body and if you reduced cholesterol too low you’d die.  Cholesterol is what most of your hormones, vitamin D, CoQ10, and other necessary compounds are made of.

The real culprit, which was never communicated to the public nor doctors was that it was inflammation in the arteries which oxidized, and damaged, the LDL cholesterol and made it sticky. (Oxidation is what causes a car to rust or an apple to turn brown) When it became damaged and sticky that caused it to form the plaque. So what causes inflammation? simple rule of thumb is almost anything white, so sugar, flour, rice, potatoes, etc. These foods are very quickly converted to glucose in the blood stream and this increased glucose causes the oxidation. One way to identify the bad foods is too look up their glycemic index. This is measure which indicates how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar. 0 means it doesn’t raise blood sugar at all and 100 is eating pure table sugar.  You want to stick to the low glycemic foods which which have a GI of less than 55. (an apple is 39 but a banana is 62. A baked potato is 111). This doesn’t mean that  there are a number of websites which list the GI of different foods. Here is one http://www.glycemicindex.com

Saturated Fat was Demonized too.

Another dietary change which took place a few decades ago also was the reduction of fat in foods. When you reduce or eliminate fat,  sugar was added to make it palatable.  We know sugar isn’t good, but if you tasted a fat free yogurt without sugar, you’d probably never buy it again. People were looking for that “Fat Free” banner on the label, they bought it, and it tasted good, but few turned the carton around and read the ingredients and saw how much sugar was added to make it taste good.

Healthy Omega 6 vs Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) Ratio

You also need the right balance of Omega 6 and 3 fats in your diet. The ideal ratio is 1:1. In the typical western diet that ratio 16:1 so far too much omega 6 EFA. This excess is oxidizing and causes the same oxidation of cholesterol as too much sugar.  Some people will take fish oil, or eat fish to get the healthy omega 3 EFAs, but nobody looks at omega 6.  So where does that excess of omega 6 come from?

Corn and Soy beans cause an excess of omega 6 when fed to animals (including us). So you say “Great I don’t eat corn or soy that often, so I’m good!”  Not so fast. You don’t have to eat the corn and soy, it can also come from what you eat or drink eats. Chickens, cattle, pigs, farm raised salmon, tilapia, shrimp and other farmed animals are fed a diet very high in corn and soy meal. When a cow eats this commercial diet it causes an unhealthy excess of omega 6 EFA in their flesh and milk.

When you eat that steak, egg, or drink a glass of milk you are getting a very unhealthy level of inflammatory omega 6 essential fatty acids. So eating that plate of eggs and bacon or a nice juicy steak is oxidizing that cholesterol and setting you up for a heart attack.  If you buy that Atlantic salmon fillet, look at the ingredients. It will say Salmon & food color added to the feed. Why? Because farm raised salmon, which is fed corn and soy meal, is white, not pink. Does that mean you have to go back to a kale and quinoa diet?  No. Read on.

Where to find Healthy Beef, Fish, Eggs, and Milk

So how do you find beef, fish, eggs, and milk that has a healthy 1:1 ratio of omega 3 & 6 EFAs?  Simple, go to the farm or hop on a boat.  When animals eat what they’ve eaten for thousands of years they’re healthy and when they are healthy you are healthy.  If you lived on a farm you’re cattle would graze on grass in the pasture. Chickens would scratch iStock_000002536169_ExtraSmallthe ground for seeds, grubs, insects, and anything else they can get. Pigs would eat what they could find too.  You could also hop in your boat and head out to sea, or to the lake. Salmon eat krill which gives them their natural pink color, same with other common fish, and shrimp.

Next time you go to the store look for the grass fed beef, milk from grass fed cows, wild caught fish and shrimp, and pasture raised chickens and eggs. Don’t fall for the “Free Range” label on the eggs. They are still fed corn and soy meal, but have access to the outside, but no natural foods there. They are more expensive, but it is worth the price to get real food that is good for you vs cheap unhealthy meats.

Blood Tests for Oxidation

The level of oxidation in your body can change daily based on what you eat and do. There are two tests though which can measure a couple markers of inflammation:

  • CRP – C-Reactive Protein. You want this to be less than 1.0.  They’ll say normal is 1.0 to 3.0, but that is what the average of the population, you want to be better than average!
  • Homocysteine – This is a highly reactive molecule which tears into the artery walls like sandpaper, then if you have oxidized LDL cholesterol it will take hold in these tears. You want this to be less than 9.0 and ideally less than 7.0. B12 and Folate help to lower homocysteine.

Don’t Buy Organic

Well, do buy organic produce, but organic milk, beef, eggs, etc are just fed organic soy and corn. Yes they won’t have hormones  and other additives and far superior to conventionally raised, but they will have far too much of the inflammatory omega 6 EFA and will lead to the oxidation of cholesterol.  Sometimes you can find organic grass fed beef and pasture raised eggs and chickens, then that is the best of the best, but if cattle are roaming the open fields eating the naturally growing grasses, and the fields aren’t being sprayed with pesticides, then you are good. When in season try to find locally raised beef, chicken, and pork where you know the farmer and see the fields.

Summary

There is nothing harmful with cholesterol, it is the oxidation of that harmless cholesterol which makes it deadly. To live a healthy life you can ignore the cholesterol levels, but you must reduce those foods which lead to the oxidation of the cholesterol. So eliminate sugar, flour, rice, bread, potatoes, etc and eat only grass fed beef and milk, pasture raised chickens and eggs, and only fresh caught fish.

 

Sources:

Medical Daily
Washington Post
Omega 3 vs 6 fatty acids

http://www.glycemicindex.com

The easiest way to improve your health – Drink More

Anyone who’s attempted to improve their health has heard the golden rule: drink more water.Drink water for your health

That sounds easy, right?

Even right now, I’ve got my water bottle sitting at my desk. Halfway through the workday, and I’ve already refilled it three times to stay properly hydrated, because apparently, this is key to my health. But why?

After digging through some research, I can tell you exactly why keeping your H2O levels in check is so important for your health.

Now grab a fresh glass of water and drink it down as I’ll reveal how you’re helping your body in more ways than you thought.

Why Water?

Water makes up about 60 percent of your total body weight, meaning your body really depends on the stuff. Actually, pretty much every system in your body relies on water to keep things running smoothly.

These functions include regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting and moistening body organs and tissues, regulating digestion, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and dissolving nutrients and minerals to make them accessible to the body.

Maybe the most important function of water is helping out your kidneys. Body fluids transport waste in and out of cells, and the main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in your urine.

So drinking water regularly helps to flush out these toxins and lighten the workload for your kidneys. Without sufficient water intake, you’re not doing your kidneys any favors and actually putting yourself at a higher risk for kidney stones as a result of extended dehydration.

Speaking of dehydration, it’s something you really want to avoid. Obviously, it will diminish the processes mentioned above, but it can also throw off your electrolyte levels. This may cause muscle weakness or heart rhythm disturbances due to overly low or high levels of important chemicals like potassium and sodium.

If you want more radiant, glowing, perfect skin, guess what? Drink water.  If you are well hydrated it will show in your skin. It isn’t that the water plumps up your skin cells, but adequate water intake will help flush toxins out of your body through you kidneys, that means fewer toxins that wander around your body. Also, though not immediate, every cell in your body grows its healthiest with plentiful water, so your young skin cells which are just growing now, if they are as healthy as they can be, it will show when they make their way to the surface of your skin in 28-45 days.  Just like watering your lawn. You won’t see it in an hour, or a day, but wait a week.

How Much is Enough?

OK, you get it: water is super important. Now let’s talk about how much is enough.

You’ve probably heard the commonly used recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. It’s not the worst guideline to stick with, but it might not be the best, either. Things like height, weight, food consumption, outside temperature, and physical activity all play into how much water an individual should consume.

The best way to determine your hydration level is to pay attention to your body. First of all, if you feel thirsty, that’s your body telling you it needs water, and you shouldn’t ignore it. Be mindful that if you’re always waiting until you feel thirsty, your body might already be partly dehydrated, so always try to address your thirst before you feel it.

Next, take a look at your urine. I know, it sounds a little gross, but it’s a really great indicator to tell if you’re sufficiently hydrated. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color, and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.

Ways to Drink MoreWoman drinking water

Many of you might already know most of this information, but you still aren’t drinking enough water. Maybe you think the taste is boring or you’re forgetful. Heck, you might just be a little lazy.

When it comes down to it, these are all just excuses. Drinking water is vital to your health, and it’s an easy, inexpensive habit to adapt.

Take a look at some of these helpful tips to incorporate more water into your diet.

  • Before your morning coffee or tea, drink a glass of water right when you wake up to help replace fluids lost during your sleep.
  • Keep a water bottle with you throughout your day so that you have something tangible in front of you to remind you to keep sipping on water.
  • Add some natural flavor to your water with a slice of lime, lemon, or whatever your favorite fruit is.
  • Try to drink a glass of water before each meal to help keep you from overeating and help with the digestion of your food.
  • Most importantly, make a goal to replace soda, juice, and coffee with water whenever possible. Many times, these drinks are loaded with calories and sugar and can often dehydrate you. If you simply can’t go without, try to limit yourself to one non-water beverage each day.

There are a few cautions though.

  • If you buy the disposable water bottles, don’t let them sit in your car and get hot. The heat will release chemicals from the plastic into the water.
  • Tap water is great for watering the lawn and showering, but not that great for dining in most US cities. Besides heavy metals which come from pipes and wells many cities add fluoride to the water. This is a powerful nuero-toxin.  To filter out all of the toxins, invest in a reverse-osmosis water filter. It will cost a couple hundred dollars and take an hour or two to install, but you’ll get the purest water available. If you look a the cost of bottled water you’ll save the cost of the RO filter many times over, plus you’ll keep all those plastic bottles out of the landfill.
  • If you have a good reverse osmosis water filter, then get a nice BPA free water bottle that you can refill throughout the day.
  • You can drink too much water, but it takes gallons. This can upset the electrolytes in your body. So don’t go excessively overboard.
  • Finally, what goes in must come out, so taper off the water as you approach bedtime so you don’t wake up several times during the night to go to the bathroom.

Finally, water is great for your diet!  Often when you feel hungry you’re actually thirsty. So when you feel like going for the Snickers bar, drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and the urge to snack will probably be gone.

References:

webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water

Higher vitamin E levels associated with reduced bone fractures in older adults

A new study has shown that a low intake of vitamin E may significantly increase the risk of bone fractures in older adults.

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailDecreased quality of life and mortality due to osteoporotic bone fractures is a large and growing problem worldwide in both men and women. Fracture risk increases with age, but is also influenced by genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Research over the past several years has indicated that an increase in oxidative stress associated with aging may also play a role in age-related bone loss.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical of Nutrition, researchers sought to determine whether dietary intake of d-alpha-tocopherol (the form of vitamin E with the highest antioxidant activity) influenced fracture rates among aging women and men.

The participants in this study were taken from two large cohort studies, the Swedish Mammography Cohort (SMC) and the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM). The SMC trial included 61,433 women with a follow-up period of 19 years. During the follow-up period, there were 3,871 hip fractures reported in the women, and 14,738 women that experienced a first fracture at any site. Vitamin E intake was determined through food records and food frequency questionnaires. Serum a-tocopherol (vitamin E) was measured in a subgroup of 654 men participating in the ULSAM trial.

Compared with women with the highest 20% of vitamin E intake, the women with the lowest 20% of intake had an 86% higher risk of hip fracture and a 20% higher risk of a fracture at any site. The use of a vitamin E containing supplement reduced the risk of hip fracture by 22%, and the risk of all fractures by 14%. Among the men in the ULSAM study (follow-up of 12 years), those with the vitamin E intakes in the top 20% had less than one-third the risk of a hip fracture than those with lower intakes. Men with lower vitamin E intakes had an 84% increase in risk of any fracture when compared to those with the highest intakes. In a subgroup of male subjects, for every 1 standard deviation decrease in serum vitamin E there was a 58% increase in hip fracture risk and 23% increase in risk for any fracture.

The results of this observational study indicate that vitamin E insufficiency is associated with higher bone fracture risk in elderly men and women.

There are several forms of vitamin E. d-alpha-tocopherol is the most bioactive form and is the natural form found in foods. The much less expensive, and  less effective form is dl-alpha-tocopherol, this is the form you’ll find in most supplements fortified foods. Look at your vitamin E supplement or multi to make sure it contains the far more effective d-alpha-tocopherol form. (Difference is one starts with d- vs dl-). Both are chemically vitamin E, but the only difference is how the pieces are put together. Imagine a stack of lego blocks and in the d-form the top block points at 12’oclock. the dl- form the top block points to 3 o’clock.  A minor difference, but makes a large difference in how your body uses it. The natural, d- form, is over twice as effective as the synthetic dl- form.

Karl Michaëlsson et al. Intake and serum concentrations of α-tocopherol in relation to fractures in elderly women and men: 2 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr January 2014 vol. 99 no. 1 107-114.

Are You Putting Poison in Your Childs Hands?

bigstock-Close-Up-Portrait-Of-Cute-Girl-47861486One of the fist things children learn after potty training is to tie their shoes and to brush their teeth. Tying their shoes is easy, but getting them to brush their teeth morning and night is a daily battle in many homes. To tempt the kids to brush their teeth there is a wide array of candy and bubble gum flavored tooth pastes on the market. But take that tube and look on the back. chances are very good you’ll see this warning:

[box type=”warning”] “Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.”[/box]

Why would you have to call the poison control center if your child, or you, swallow a little tooth paste. The reason is the fluoride in the tooth paste. Fluoride is a poison. visit the two sites I reference below for a detailed description of the signs of fluoride poisoning.

How poisonous is the fluoride in toothpaste to kids? A single tube of bubble-gum flavored Colgate-for-Kids toothpaste contains enough fluoride (143 mg) to kill a child weighing less than 66 pounds!  Even swallowing a little bit of toothpaste every time they brush can cause problems and compound that if you live in an area that adds fluoride to the drinking water.

Fluoride is also readily absorbed through the gums. Many mouthwashes contain fluoride, it is in your drinking water.

So what should a concerned parent do? Simple, don’t buy toothpaste containing fluoride. And being shellfish parents should avoid fluoride containing toothpaste as well – You invariably swallow a little each time. Also put a reverse osmosis water filter in your house so you have fluoride free drinking water.

 

Sources

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/814774-overview

Toothpastes

 

Melatonin – Its not just for Sleep

couple sleeping

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in your brain in response to the sun going down and getting dark, then melatonin production increases. In the morning when the light of day hits your eyes, melatonin production stops and you wake up. Because it is such a great natural sleep aid many people take a melatonin supplement when they go to bed to help them sleep. It is non addictive and doesn’t have any of the dangerous side effects of sleep drugs.

As we age our natural melatonin production decreases, but below are a list of other very beneficial ways melatonin can improve your health and why you may want to start taking a melatonin supplement before you go to bed.

  • Melatonin fights brain changes in Alzheimer’s Disease. Studies have also shown that melatonin helps protect the brain neurons from the two proteins which damage the nerve cells that leads to Alzheimer’s. Melatonin supplementation must be begun early on as once the damage is done it can’t reverse it.
  • Melatonin fights Parkinson’s at the earliest stages. Some studies have shown that melatonin supplementation can prevent and even reverse some of the changes in behavior found in Parkinson’s patients.
  • Melatonin cuts the risk of stroke – As we age melatonin levels decrease and with that decrease there is a proportional increase in the risk of stroke.
  • Melatonin has been shown to reduce cholesterol accumulation by 42% and helps reduce blood pressure into the normal levels.
  • If you do have a stroke melatonin can reduce the amount of damage in the area of the stroke by inhibiting the production of “protein melting” enzymes which can damage the blood brain barrier in the area of the stroke.
  • It shields your brain from traumatic injury. In traumatic brain injury, like from an auto accident, it is the oxidative damage to the brain cells which causes much of the damage. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and can protect the brain cells in the area of the injury.
  • You may have heard of the benefits of calorie restriction diets which can add years of healthy life. Melatonin seems to increase the expression of the same “Longevity protein” SIRT1 which triggers the expression of a number of self-healing genes just like the calorie restriction diet does. Much easier to comply with too!

With all of the benefits you need to begin melatonin supplementation early as it won’t do much good after signs of neurological diseases begin or traumatic injury happens.

There are dangers though. Most of the readily available melatonin comes from the pineal gland of animals, typically from cattle slaughter houses.  If the cow has a viral infection, like mad cow disease, then there is a good chance that intact virus will be in the melatonin and can’t be filtered or purified out.  There are a few producers of synthetic melatonin, which is made from non-animal ingredients, which are free from these risks (and also vegan friendly). Unfortunately most of the melatonin products I’ve seen on the store shelves don’t say if they are from animal sources or the much safer synthetic sources. I do know the one I use is synthetic and safe.

 

Is All Natural Skin Care really better?

bigstock-Beautiful-smiling-blond-woman--15958400When you see an ad or label that reads “All Natural” you must keep in mind that the government has not defined the use of the term “NATURAL”. While a product may claim to be “all natural” unless as a consumer you know what all those ingredients are on the list, you don’t know if any of the the ingredients have been altered through a chemical process for their use.

The claim that naturals are “better” or “healthier" for skin has not been proven in studies. Although that might not make sense to you, the reasons are it is difficult to preserve many naturals without some kind of chemical or process. Also remember naturals are known to be the cause of many different allergies people have.

As a consumer you need to be very sure and check the ingredients because many all natural products may contain unexpected components and ingredients that could be very undesirable for skin. Problems also with some all naturals is they cannot provide things like lightness, easy absorbability, flexibility to avoid cracking, staying blended, emulsified and bacteria free.

Don’t just assume the advertising, read and check all the ingredients of  every product, not just naturals.

For a great skin care line which has no preservatives, no irratating oils, and really gets results please visit Bella Pelle Laser’s Product Page

Want to reduce your risk of Melanoma? Then get out in the sun.

Get your sunshine Vitamin DWe’ve been told for years to not go out in the sun without being slathered with sunscreen, and to reapply it regularly. Sure this prevents a painful sunburn, but it also blocks your vitamin D production. More and more research is coming out showing the cancer preventive effects of vitamin D. Unfortunately our vitamin D levels have plummeted as we’ve been scared sunless.

Vitamin D affects your biological function by influencing nearly 3,000 of your genes through vitamin D receptors. In fact, vitamin D receptors are found throughout your body, which should come as no surprise, given we humans evolved in the sun.

A research study involving 10,000 individuals showed that correcting a vitamin D deficiency can cut your risk of dying in half. Sun exposure also increases nitric oxide production which is great for  lowering blood pressure and increasing heart health and the benefits more than outweighs the risk of skin cancer.

If you’ve been avoiding the sun like the plague, you’ll be relieved to know that melanoma is not caused by sun exposure. Although the reported number of new cases of melanoma in the US has been reportedly increasing for more than 30 years, a landmark study in the British Journal of Dermatology suggests this apparent increase is a result of non-cancerous lesions being misclassified as “stage 1 melanoma.” In other words, people are being diagnosed with melanoma even when they have only a minimal, non-cancerous lesion, and these diagnoses are significantly skewing cancer statistics. The sun is nothing more than a scapegoat in this phenomenon of “increased melanoma.”

The medical journal, The Lancet, wrote“Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.”  Melanoma also does not predominantly appear on sun exposed skin, but can appear anyplace on your body.

Increased UV exposure can increase the risk of basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, which are fairly benign by comparison, The risks associated with insufficient vitamin D are far greater.

Vitamin D’s protective effect against cancer works in multiple ways, including:

  • Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
  • Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
  • Causing cells to become fully differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
  • Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous.

Many actually did double harm to themselves by slathering on the sunscreen. Sunscreen typically only block the UVB rays, these are the burning rays, but it is also UVB which stimulates the production of vitamin D. By blocking the UVB rays they didn’t burn as rapidly, so they stayed in the sun longer, but the UVA rays still penetrated deep into the skin which causes skin aging, wrinkles, etc.

So, this summer, get outside, enjoy the sun, just don’t get burned.  15-30 minutes of midday sun can give you a good dose of vitamin D, then put on a sun screen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

If you are confined to an office indoors and can’t get some mid day summer sun, then be sure to supplement with vitamin D and get your blood serum levels of vitamin D tested. It is hard to overdose on vitamin D, but a vitamin D deficiency can be deadly.

Is Organic Skin Care Better?

bigstock-Beautiful-smiling-blond-woman--15958400Walk the beauty counter or do a google search for skin care and you’ll see hundreds of products touting the benefits of “Organic, No harmful chemicals, all natural, etc.”  Sounds great, but is it?

  • First the term Organic does not officially apply to skin care, only to food. So no agency will care or verify that their ingredients truly are organic.
  • Natural also has no legal meaning, so again, just advertising like new and improved, just words with no definition behind them.
  • Natural, non chemical, is best.  Is it?  The implication that anything naturally grown is good and anything processed, or with a chemical sounding name is bad.  Poison ivy, hemlock, rattle snake venom, etc are all natural, but you do not want them on or near you.
  • Preservative methods – many skin care lines are advertising that they are paraben free. This is good, but they still must preserve the product otherwise it will have the shelf life of a jar of mayonnaise and must be refrigerated. So how do they preserve the product?
    • Formaldehyde releasing agents. These will have chemical names but their evilness comes from the fact that when the molecule breaks down it releases formaldehyde.
    • Oils – Many will use various oils like grapefruit oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, etc.  These are no unhealthy at all, but they are drying and irritating. So they do safely preserve the product, but you don’t want to put something on your skin which is drying and/or irritating.
    • Refrigeration – Some lines are truly all natural and un preserved, but they have very short shelf lives and you must keep them refrigerated. so not convenient.
    • Self Preserving – One line has a unique patented process where they use several processes to make it difficult for bacterial to get a hold, one property is they encapsulate some of the ingredients in micro capsules so that are released when you apply it to your skin.
  • All chemicals are not bad, like all things natural aren’t always good. Every substance has its common name and its chemical name. So weather it is listed by its common name or its chemical name doesn’t change it.  Chemicals are only bad if they are bad for you.

So if your looking for an organic skin care line, maybe look deeper and look instead for harmful or irritating ingredients instead.

 

Brain getting a little foggy? Ginko & PS can help.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? You get up, get yourself ready, drive yourself to your local shopping center, and then once you get to your destination, you stop… stand there… and think: “What did I need to get here?” Then you don’t remember until you get back home.

It happens to me all the time. Recently, while wandering a favorite store in some less-than-sensible shoes, I swear all the blood left my brain and went to the pain in my feet, because when I got home, I realized I made a dumb purchase and forgot the whole point of why I was in that store in the first place.

I worry for my future.

But not too much, because, fortunately, it is possible to keep our brains sharp as we age.

The Brain is Amazing

A couple years ago I came across a book that taught me how incredible our brains can be. The Brain that Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge is a fascinating read of what could be a super boring scientific subject. The book covers some mind-blowing (ha ha) examples of how people have overcome serious challenges thanks to the plasticity of our brains. It also provides insight into things we can do to make a real and lasting difference in our cognitive function well into old age.

Like a puzzle, many habits fit together to keep our brains fit. Here are a few tips:

  • Meditate, relax, and make sure you get enough sleep. A calm brain learns better and stress can actually kill cells in the brain.
  • Learn something. Doing something that requires real concentration — think learning how to dance or speak a new language — keeps the brain fit (including the part that makes dopamine, which is triggered when you experience something new).
  • Socialize with friends and family. Consider playing a rousing game of Scrabble or Words with Friends while you’re at it!
  • Consume lots of antioxidants and moderate amounts of caffeine. I recently read that caffeine boosts circulation in all parts of the body except the brain — where it actually constricts blood flow.
  • Stay active. Exercise helps the brain build new neurons and increases both oxygen and blood supply to the brain.

You can supplement the benefits of an antioxidant rich diet and exercise by adding Ginkgo-PS™ to your supplement regimen every day, because it will help deliver similar benefits.

Why Ginkgo-PS is Groovy

The two main ingredients in Ginkgo-PS are Ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine.

The herb Ginkgo biloba has been around for zillions of years. It is well accepted as a natural way to support cognition and circulation. In fact, it primarily helps cognition because it promotes healthy circulation—better blood flow helps deliver blood and oxygen to the brain. Ginkgo biloba also acts as an antioxidant, defending cells against damaging oxidative stress.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a fatty acid that plays a role in cell signaling and has been shown to support memory function and cognition. Some of the benefits of PS come from its favorable impact on brain glucose metabolism, acetylcholine levels, and maintaining normal capacity for norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine dependent neurotransmitter systems.

It turns out that while both ingredients are pretty cool on their own, they are more effective if combined, as they are in Ginkgo-PS. A study published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental in 2007 showed that “administration of GBE [Ginkgo biloba extract] complexed with phosphatidylserine resulted both in improved secondary memory performance and significantly increased speed of memory task performance.” Results that were not seen when only Ginkgo biloba was used.

USANA’s Ginkgo-PS delivers the right amount of these key ingredients to provide real support for memory and cognition.

Keep the Vitamin D levels up to insure an active life into the Golden Years.

Here is yet another study showing how important vitamin D is.  For all of us Baby Boomers and beyond, this is something we need to pay attention to to help insure we can stay active as long as possible.

In an article published online on May 9, 2012 in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine report an association between reduced levels of vitamin D and a greater risk of disability or loss of mobility in older men and women.

For the current investigation, nutrition epidemiologist Denise K. Houston, PhD, RD, of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology and her associates utilized data from 2,099 African-American and Caucasian participants enrolled in the National Institute on Aging’s Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study. Mobility, as assessed by the ability to walk a specified distance and climb stairs, was evaluated every six months over six years of follow-up. Blood samples obtained at the one year follow-up visit were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels.

Levels of serum vitamin D of less than 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) were found in 28.9 percent of the subjects, and levels of 50 to less than 75 nmol/L were measured in 36.1 percent. Those whose levels were between 50 and 75 nmol/L had a 27 percent greater risk of developing a mobility limitation and a 30 percent greater risk of mobility disability than those whose levels were at least 75 nmol/L. Among those whose serum vitamin D levels were lower than 50 nmol/L, the risks were 29 percent and 93 percent greater.

“This is one of the first studies to look at the association of vitamin D and the onset of new mobility limitations or disability in older adults,” announced Dr Houston. “We observed about a 30 percent increased risk of mobility limitations for those older adults who had low levels of vitamin D, and almost a two-fold higher risk of mobility disability.”

Because vitamin D plays a role in muscle function, Dr Houston suggested that reduced levels could decrease physical strength and performance. Deficient levels of the vitamin, which have been implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease and other conditions, can also indirectly impact physical function. “About one-third of older adults have low vitamin D levels,” Dr Houston noted. “It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone and older adults, who may not spend much time outdoors, may need to take a vitamin D supplement.”

While the current dietary recommendation for older individuals is just 800 international units per day, Dr Houston remarked that “Higher amounts of vitamin D may be needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions. However, clinical trials are needed to determine whether increasing vitamin D levels through diet or supplements has an effect on physical function.”

Personally I take 1,800 iu daily in my multivitamin plus I add another 2,000 iu daily.  Even for those who spend a lot of time in the sun, you may not be retaining all the vitamin D you make. See other posts in this blog for information on how to optimize vitamin D production and keep from washing it away (hint, don’t shower for a day or two after good sun exposure.)

Scientific Critique of Many Online Skin Care Sites

A lot of misinformation is available on the internet (especially when it comes to personal care products), and unfortunately it is often the first thing that comes up when people look into ingredients. Organic Consumers Association and others (like cosmetics database,com, Environmental Working Group (EWG), and David Suzuki) are not strictly science-based or impartial.  Many of these organizations are heavily influenced by strong agendas and political activism (there are dozens of sites that are all connected – cosmetics database,com, safe cosmetics,org, skin deep, Environmental Working Group, breastcancerfund,org; many of the leaders and activists in these groups are involved with activism all the way to international groups like Friend of the Earth).  Not that activism cannot be used as a positive tool, but there is great potential for negative as well.  Since it is not strictly science-based, opinions and agendas on these sites can change any time something new piques an interest.
In the past, some these organizations have promoted information that implies some products are unhealthy or dangerous for various reasons.  One example that has come up in the past is that some products contain manganese (an essential mineral) – which some sites have labeled as dangerous from their report “MANGANESE PCA577%Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).”  It sounds really scary, but this is total nonsense.  Manganese has been known to be neurotoxic at relatively high levels from industrial exposure.  This is not a possibility from a typical diet and is not even relevant in personal care products.  They also imply that vitamin E (as tocopherol acetate) is somehow toxic in personal care products, and the list could go on and on.
It is unfortunate, since their intentions are likely good.  But their science and analysis is simply over-the-top in many instances, and at the least, very inconsistent.  For example, they rate known allergenic ingredients like comfrey and other herbs as being no risk, while automatically demonizing most anything synthetic.  They also assign hazards to minerals and other ingredients that have absolutely no relevance to the way they are used in personal care products.
There is one final point to make about the majority of information available about skin care ingredients, and health information in general.  Popularity (or the size of the website) has nothing to do with accuracy.  Passing incorrect or inflammatory information by e-mail around the world dozens of times does not make it valid.  No matter how people dress it up, or for what cause they promote it, inaccurate or flawed information is still false.
A good resource for scientifically based information and regulatory issues related to cosmetic ingredients can be found at the following link:  http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/
Here is some more specific information on a few ingredients that these sites have misstated:
Vitamin A – Retinyl Palmitate
There was a report (from the activist group Environmental Working Group) that indicated the possibility that retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) may increase photosensitization leading to the formation of more tumors in the study rats. From this one rat study, it is stated by the EWG that vitamin A in sunscreens is dangerous and can increase cancer risk. It is not responsible or accurate to draw this conclusion based on that data alone.  This is but one small rat study out of decades of research on vitamin A and the skin.  Secondly, most sunscreens do not include vitamin A in high dosages or as an active ingredient.  It is typically added at levels of 0.5%-1% or less to stabilize the other ingredients in the sunscreen, which are vulnerable to changing temperatures due to normal use of the product.
Here is a rebuttal from the American Academy of Dermatology that should help settle their concerns:
There are several products that contain a small amount of retinyl palmitate.  It is included at dosages of 1% or less, and is used to stabilize ingredients, not to provide vitamin A activity. 
Benzophenone-n
Benzophenone-1, -3, -4, -5, -9 and-11 are compounds made from 2-hydroxybenzophenone. These compounds are powders. In cosmetics and personal care products, Benzophenone-1 and Benzophenone-3 are used mostly in the formulation of nail polishes and enamels. These Benzophenone ingredients are also used in bath products, makeup products, hair products, sunscreens and skin care products.
CIR Safety Review: When undiluted, some Benzophenones, were slightly irritating to the skin and eyes. At concentrations used in cosmetics and personal care products, Benzophenoens were not irritating. Benzophenone-3 was nonsensitizing and nonphototoxic. Benzophenones were nonmutagenic when tested both with and without metabolic activation.
FDA: Link to Code of Federal Regulations for Benzophenone-3 (Oxybenzone) and Benzophenone-4 (Sulisobenzone)
Benzophenone-3, listed as Oxybenzone, and Benzophenone-4 and -5, listed as Sulisobenzone and Sulisobenzone Sodium
These respectively, are included in Annex VII, Part 1 (UV filter which cosmetic products may contain) of the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union. Oxybenzone may be used at concentrations up to 10%, and products containing 0.5% Oxybenzone when used in sunscreen products must be labeled “contains Oxybenzone.” Sulisobenzone and Sulisobenzone Sodium may be used at concentrations up to 5% as Sulisobenzone.
Link to the EU Cosmetics Directive:
There are studies that suggest that some sunscreen ingredients, including Oxybenzone may have activity like the hormone, estrogen. Therefore, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee for Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) was asked to consider if UV filters as used in sunscreen products have estrogenic effects which have the potential to affect human health. The SCCNFP concluded that UV filters used in sunscreen products allowed in the European market have no estrogenic effects that could potentially affect human health.
Link to SCCNFP opinion on the potential estrogenic effects of UV filters
A responsibly formulated product line will have been extensively tested under dermatologist and ophthalmologist supervised conditions. Also, all products and ingredients would be reviewed and analyzed by a board certified toxicologist for cytology and toxicology. All ingredients should comply with safety standards set by governmental regulations, which are overseen by the CTFA (Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association). 
*(information adopted from http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ )
Sulfates
Here is some information on sulfates, which are commonly brought up as an issue:
Several common sulfates are sodium myreth sulfate, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, and sodium lauroyl sarcosinate.  Despite sounding similar to sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, these three ingredients behave quite differently; they are common ingredients which create foam and bubbles and act as detergents, thereby removing oil and dirt from the hair.
Most concerns about laureth-7, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium myreth sulfate, and sodium lauroyl sarcosinate arise from a misunderstanding of sodium laureth and sodium lauryl sulfate. In this article, we will address this misinformation and provide you with scientific resources to allay any concerns regarding the safety of these ingredients.
The SLS/SLES Myth
A sudden rash of websites and emails have popped up claiming that SLS/SLES cause cancer and industry officials know this substance is harmful. One radical email went so far as to state, “[t]his substance is found in most shampoos, and the manufacturers use it because it produces a lot of foam and it is cheap. But, the fact is that SLS is used to scrub garage floors…and [it] is proven to cause cancer in the long run.”
Contrary to rumors such as these, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate do not cause cancer or make your hair fall out. Both are common ingredients used to create foam and bubbles, and both are found in a variety of shampoos, cosmetic cleaners, bath and shower gels, bubble baths, toothpastes and mouth rinses.  Both compounds are cosmetic detergents, which exert emulsifying action, thereby removing oil and soil from the hair and skin.  We will discuss their safety in more detail in the next section.
Unfortunately, there are now dozens of anti-SLS sites online, all of which repeat much of the same misinformation. If you have encountered these sites, you have probably seen one of the following claims.  We will discuss the actual science behind each claim.
Claim 1: 
SLS is contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines.
This statement typically references another claim (made twenty-one years ago) about nitrosamines possibly being formed during the manufacture of SLS/SLES or by the interaction of these two compounds with other nitrogen-containing compounds in a personal care product.  However, searching in any modern scientific research databases fails to return an actual paper or journal article detailing the mechanism behind this claim. 
Rather, it seems plausible that since the sulfate moiety is an oxidizing agent, any nitrogen-containing compound might react to produce a tiny amount of nitrates, which in turn might react with something else to produce a nitrosamine. But the fact of the matter is that your body itself produces a huge amount of sulfates as byproducts of normal metabolic processes.  Additionally, the body also produces countless nitrates by similar mechanisms. These naturally occurring sulfates and nitrates exist in far greater amounts than could possibly be absorbed from a personal care product, so if this was truly a concern, the human body itself would be the greatest cause of it.  (Similarly, the claim on some sites that lauryl sulfate reacts with formaldehyde to produce “nitrosating agents” is simply false, since neither compound contains a nitrogen atom.)
Claim 2:
 Statements supposedly referencing the “Medical College of Georgia.”
You may have noticed that some anti-SLS sites mention “studies from the Medical College of Georgia” or preface their information with “the Medical College of Georgia says…”  Typically these statements are followed with a list of harmful effects that SLS causes on a variety of mammalian tissues.
The actual paper these statements refer to is a 1989 article in the obscure journal Lens & Eye Toxicity Research.  Some sites go so far as to call this twenty-year-old paper “recent research,” despite the fact that it actually makes no reference to any of the supposed harms.
In that article, Keith Green and his colleagues simply made the not-at-all-surprising observation that if there is already a chemical or physical injury to the cornea, a large concentration of the detergent slows down healing. In the actual study, the group shaved pieces off the outer surface of the eyes of rabbits. Not surprisingly, pouring shampoo detergent into the eyes interfered with healing.
Claim 3: SLS/SLES causes cataracts.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is indeed used in a model for cataract formation in the lens of the eye (see J. Biol. Chem. 262: 8096-102, 1987). What these misinformed sites don’t mention is that these experiments immersed transparent lens proteins in concentrated solutions of detergent, similar to what you might do with very dirty clothes. As a result of this immersion, the proteins were altered and reduced to mere translucency.
The application of this to normal shampoo usage is irrelevant, since these transparent proteins are only found within the lens itself, which is deep beneath the surface of eye.  The lens won’t be exposed to the shampoo even if you were to splash SLS directly into your eyes.
Reviews of extensive studies by independent panels of medical, scientific, and industry experts have demonstrated the safety of both sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates in personal care products designed for brief, discontinuous use.
Other claims
For information regarding other bogus SLS/SLES claims, the American Cancer Society has put together the following document:
The truth about SLS/SLES

A report from an expert panel of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review committee (and released by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association – CTFA) concluded the following:
“On the basis of available information…Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are safe as presently used in cosmetic products.”
A search of credible, peer-reviewed medical research journals yields no legitimate evidence linking SLS/SLES to cancer in humans.
As mentioned above, one of the common sources of misinformation regarding SLS is an article by Keith Green, PhD, DSc, of the Medical College of Georgia.  Dr. Green began studying SLS and related compounds in 1982, and he had the following to say about the internet rumors described above:
“These rumors on the Internet are absolutely ridiculous. Like many other chemicals, it is the manner of usage that is important. As long as you don’t rub it all over your body and reapply it every hour for 24 hours, it’s perfectly safe.
“We did a study using diluted SLS as an eye drop. We put the test amount on the eye of a rabbit and after a certain amount of time we found that SLS got inside the tissues, heart, brain, lungs, but in very minute amounts… Second, all of it washed out in 96 hours.”
As a matter of interest, Dr. Green also noted that SLS behaved differently in younger rabbits than in adult rabbits.
“It [SLS] went in faster and came out faster. Whatever you place on the eye, only 1/1000 of that amount gets inside the eye. So, if you put on one milligram, one microgram goes in…The eye stayed pristine. There was no redness and no irritation. These were not toxic effects.”
It is also important to note that Dr. Green’s research primarily concentrated on SLS as an eye irritant.  Despite the common misuse of his data, Dr. Green was not studying whether or not SLS causes cancer, and he notes that he is not aware of any studies in this area at this time.
Conclusion

As you can see from the preceding information, “don’t believe everything you read” is apt advice – particularly with a medium such as the internet that allows anyone (knowledgeable or not) to post an interpretation of data. We hope you have come to the same conclusion we have: that articles proclaiming “anything with SLS/SLES is bad” are full of inaccuracies, innuendos, and outright lies.  These sites are irresponsible to brand any compound as toxic without providing appropriate scientific or experimental information to back up such a bold claim.
If SLS/SLES are indeed toxic or carcinogenic, there should be clear scientific evidence on the matter.  However, searches of current medical research literature have failed to turn up any legitimate reports of carcinogenic effects as a result of using products containing SLS/SLES.
The bottom line: you may continue to use your SLS/SLES-containing shampoo and toothpaste without worrying about acquiring cancer or any other health condition as a result.
Alcohols 
Alcohols are a large and diverse family of chemicals with different names and a variety of effects. In cosmetic labeling, the term “alcohol,” used by itself, refers to ethyl alcohol. To prevent the ethyl alcohol in a cosmetic from being diverted illegally for use as an alcoholic beverage, it is usually denatured. Denaturing is the process of rendering ethyl alcohol unfit to drink. Due to very strict regulations most cosmetic products use denatured alcohol. In cosmetic products, denatured alcohol functions most often as a solvent. Solvents are necessary liquids used to dissolve other components within cosmetic products.
The alcohol in the toner is denatured ethanol.  The second ingredient in the product may be the second most in percentage, but this is not necessarily an indication of absolute amount.  In other words, it takes a certain dosage or absolute amount to be irritating.  Just because it is the second ingredient does not mean there is a lot of it in the formula. If the first ingredient in a product, for example, is 75% of the total, the next ingredient could be 5%, followed by 20 other ingredients that make up the total.”
PEG or Polyethylene Glycol
As far as the PEG ingredients, the following is an explanation from a 3rd party cosmetics expert (Paula Begoun): “Also listed as PEG on ingredient labels, polyethylene glycol is an ingredient that self-proclaimed “natural” Web sites have attempted to make notoriously evil. They gain a great deal of attention by attributing horror stories to PEG, associating it with antifreeze (however, antifreeze is ethylene glycol, not polyethylene glycol), and there is no research indicating that PEG compounds pose any problem for skin. Quite the contrary: PEGs have no known skin toxicity and can be used on skin with great results (Sources: Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, June 2002, pages 587-606; and Cancer Research, June 2002, pages 3138-3143). The only negative research for this ingredient indicates that large quantities given orally to rats can cause tumors, but that is unrelated to topical application.
Polyethylene, when it is not combined with glycol, is the most common form of plastic used in the world. It is flexible and has a smooth, waxy feel. When ground up, the small particles are included in scrubs as a gentle abrasive. When mixed with glycol, it becomes a viscous liquid. In the minuscule amounts used in cosmetics, it helps keep products stable and performs functions similar to those of glycerin. Because polyethylene glycol can penetrate skin, it is also a vehicle that helps deliver other ingredients deeper into the skin. It is also used internally in medical procedures to flush and clean the intestinal tract.”
The answer to your question about fragrance can be found at the following link on our database:
Fragrance
Fragrance is an integral part of the success of personal care products, and even products that claim to be “fragrance free” are not necessarily void of fragrance ingredients. The FDA has made the following regulation regarding this claim:
“Fragrance Free: implies that a cosmetic product so labeled has no perceptible odor. Fragrance ingredients may be added to a fragrance-free cosmetic to mask any offensive odor originating from the raw materials used, but in a smaller amount than is needed to impart a noticeable scent.”
Fragrance is an integral part of the success of personal care products, and even products that claim to be “fragrance free” are not necessarily void of fragrance ingredients. The FDA has made the following regulation regarding this claim:
Fragrance Free: implies that a cosmetic product so labeled has no perceptible odor. Fragrance ingredients may be added to a fragrance-free cosmetic to mask any offensive odor originating from the raw materials used, but in a smaller amount than is needed to impart a noticeable scent.”
As this states, fragrances are part of almost any product – even fragrance-free ones.  We have gone to great lengths to find and use a fragrance that is non-allergenic for most individuals.

Going to enjoy some fun in the sun this weekend? If you forget your sunscreen, then just skip the shower.

This holiday weekend many of us will be heading out to the beach, lakes, mountains, or just gardening in the yard. The forecast here is for lots of sun, so lots of sunburns on that winter white skin.

So many will grab the tube of sunscreen out of the medicine chest, slather it on, and think they are safe. It could be our obsession with sunscreen which has given way to the rise in skin cancer in the past decades. Lets back up for a bit of physics and biology.

The sun’s rays consist of visible light, inferred, which we feel as heat, and Ultraviolet, which we can’t see, but these very short wavelengths can penetrate out skin. The two ranges we often hear about are UV-A and UV-B.

UV-B is the shorter of the two and is the one responsible for the sunburn we are all probably too familiar with. UV-B is also the wavelength which converts cholesterol in our skin into Vitamin D.  Most of the sunscreens were designed to block the UV-B rays to help prevent a burn (Remember UV-B like Burn)

UV-A is the longer wavelength, which can penetrate deeper into the skin, and play a major role in skin aging and wrinkling. UV-A also can cause mutations and DNA damage in the basal layers of the skin where most skin cancers begin.

Lets talk a bit about Vitamin D. There is an avalanche of research coming out on Vitamin D over the past years and it is a key ingredient in your bodies anti-cancer defenses.  Vitamin D is fat soluble and is produced by a reaction in your skin brought on by exposure to UV-B rays. Once vitamin D is produced it resides in the surface oils in your skin and takes 18 hours or more to be absorbed deeper into the skin where it can become available to the rest of your body.

So lets take a look at a couple of scenarios:

  • The common scenario for the past few decades: You go out in the sun, slather on a traditional sunscreen so you don’t get a sunburn. If you were good you reapplied it ever few hours. Keep reapplying and you could stay out in the sun all day without burning. So what was the end result? You didn’t burn, you didn’t produce much vitamin D, AND UV-A rays did lots of damage to your deeper cells and may have pushed you one notch closer to starting the cascade of events which lead to skin cancer.  Vitamin D could help prevent this, but you didn’t produce much because you kept the sun screen on which blocked the UV-B rays.
  • The other common scenario is that you didn’t put much sunscreen on, or maybe none at all, you were in the sun for a little while, started burning, and covered up or went inside (or maybe stayed out a bit longer and fried yourself.  so in this scenario, you produced a ton of vitamin D. You didn’t do near as much damage to your deeper skin from less exposure to UV-A. Then you went in and very gently took a shower to get the salt water, lake water, sweat or what ever else off. Well doing that just washed all that vitamin D down the drain. So you’ve done less damage than the first scenario, but still lacking vitamin D.
  • A better scenario:  you slather on a full spectrum sunscreen which has agents to block both UV-A and UV-B rays. So you don’t produce the vitamin D, but you don’t burn nor damage your skin long term.  
  • Well there is one common scenario: Go out have fun hiking, biking, in the boat, etc. Get some good sun, maybe a little pink, but hey, you’re out camping, so you don’t take a shower until you get home, so that vitamin D has a chanced to get into your system and offer some anti cancer protection.
  • The final scenario, which is what I try to do, is I take 5,800 iu of vitamin D per day in supplements spread out twice a day. Then I use a full spectrum sunscreen as much as I can. I try to keep a shirt on my pasty white body which hasn’t seen the sun all winter.  
The labeling laws are changing, and I’m not up on the current laws as to what they can or can’t say, but grab your tube of sunscreen, or daily face cream and see which of the following ingredients it has in it. The table below lists most of the sunscreen chemicals and which range of UV radiation they block BUT read the next two paragraphs before you run for your skin care.
There are also the physical sunblocks like zinc oxide (that white stuff the life guards used to put on their nose) and there are also powders with tinted minerals, like zinc oxide, which block the sun fairly well, but don’t look like the life guards nose.  These are great for every day used.

There are numerous chemical names for each compound, so you may see something else listed on the label. For example Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is also known as Oxybenzone.  Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate and Octyl Methoxycinnamate are also known as Octinoxate. So it may take some research to see which chemicals are the sunscreen agents.   A good source for honest scientific skin care ingredient information is http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org  

FDA-Approved Sunscreens
Active Ingredient/UV Filter Name Range Covered
UVA1: 340-400 nm
UVA2: 320-340 nm
UVB: 290-320 nm
Chemical Absorbers:
Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) UVB
Avobenzone UVA1
Cinoxate UVB
Dioxybenzone UVB, UVA2
Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) UVA2
Ensulizole (Phenylbenzimiazole Sulfonic Acid) UVB
Homosalate UVB
Meradimate (Menthyl Anthranilate) UVA2
Octocrylene UVB
Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate) UVB
Octisalate ( Octyl Salicylate) UVB
Oxybenzone UVB, UVA2
Padimate O UVB
Sulisobenzone UVB, UVA2
Trolamine Salicylate UVB
Physical Filters:
Titanium Dioxide UVB, UVA2
Zinc Oxide UVB,UVA2, UVA1

So go out and enjoy the sun this long holiday weekend, just make sure you have a full spectrum sunscreen and you’ve taken some vitamin D. Or go out get fried, just resist taking a shower for a couple days.  
Just as a note, the daily skin moisturizer I use has three different sunscreens in it blocking both UV-A and UV-B rays and is rated as SPF 15. It is also free of parabens, formaldehyde releasing agents, and all other chemical preservatives.  I’ve used this when I go running and skiing and have never burned – And I take my vitamin D.

100 Reasons You Should Exercise Today

We all have those days that we don’t want to work out even though we know we should. When you need a little motivation, look no further. Here are 100 reasons you shouldn’t skip your workout today. Print, save, pin or “like” this post so you’ll have easy access to it on the days you need it most.

100 Reasons to Exercise Now

  1. Because it makes you feel confident
  2. Because it helps you get stronger
  3. Because exercise helps combat depression
  4. Because you’ll feel proud of yourself
  5. Because you have goals you want to reach
  6. Because you’ll feel bad if you don’t
  7. Because you want to move forward, not backward
  8. Because it burns more calories than not working out
  9. Because it improves your heart health
  10. Because you want a great butt
  11. Because it prevents diabetes
  12. Because you want to be a good example to your kids
  13. Because you want to feel good in your clothes
  14. Because it reduces your risk of cancer
  15. Because your body was made to move
  16. Because you want to be an athlete
  17. Because you want to look better
  18. Because it lifts your mood
  19. Because you want to stand taller
  20. Because it reduces back pain
  21. Because it feels good
  22. Because it makes you feel accomplished
  23. Because you spend most of your day on your butt
  24. Because swimsuit season is always coming
  25. Because strong is the new skinny
  26. Because dieting only works so much
  27. Because it strengthens your bones, too
  28. Because it helps you lose weight
  29. Because it allows you to eat more food
  30. Because it’s the best way to spend “me” time
  31. Because it helps you de-stress
  32. Because it’s cheaper than therapy
  33. Because you want a strong core
  34. Because you want to take care for yourself
  35. Because you take pride in your body
  36. Because it strengthens your legs
  37. Because it helps your clothes fit better
  38. Because you want to push yourself
  39. Because you are capable of more than you ever imagined
  40. Because moving your body feels good
  41. Because it keeps your mind sharp
  42. Because it helps you beat belly bloat
  43. Because it helps you sleep better at night
  44. Because it gives you energy
  45. Because you want to stay healthy as you age
  46. Because you want to look younger
  47. Because you want toned arms
  48. Because it improves your balance
  49. Because it burns off last night’s dessert
  50. Because it boosts your immune system
  51. Because sweat is sexy
  52. Because you want to live longer
  53. Because you want to get better at your game
  54. Because you want to catch someone’s eye
  55. Because exercisers earn more money
  56. Because you’re more likely to eat better when you exercise
  57. Because you want to shave time off your running pace
  58. Because you want to breathe easier
  59. Because you want to see the scale drop
  60. Because exercise improves your sex life
  61. Because you are worth it
  62. Because being fit makes everything in life better
  63. Because you promised yourself that you would
  64. Because you deserve a better life
  65. Because it’ll help you drink more water
  66. Because you want to do real push-ups
  67. Because it reduces your health care costs
  68. Because you’ll miss fewer days of work
  69. Because you want to create a new future for yourself
  70. Because it’ll help you like what you see in the mirror
  71. Because it’ll makes clothing shopping more fun
  72. Because you want to look and feel incredible
  73. Because exercising can be fun
  74. Because it’ll give your skin a glow
  75. Because it’s a good way to spend time with your friends
  76. Because it’ll help you prevent the middle-age spread
  77. Because it reduces your blood pressure
  78. Because you don’t want to let yourself go
  79. Because you don’t want to squeeze into an airplane or rollercoaster seat
  80. Because it strengthens your spirit
  81. Because it’s a cheap way to entertain yourself
  82. Because you’ll be able to reward yourself
  83. Because you need a reason to wear those new workout clothes
  84. Because you’re tired of being tired
  85. Because not working out is not going to get you very far
  86. Because it’s a great way to spend time outside
  87. Because you made a commitment to yourself
  88. Because you’re tired of starting over
  89. Because there will always be another wedding, vacation or reunion
  90. Because you’re not a quitter
  91. Because it improves your cholesterol
  92. Because it boosts your metabolism
  93. Because it prevents age-related muscle loss
  94. Because if you can do this, you can do anything
  95. Because a fit body is a healthy body
  96. Because it beats sitting on the couch
  97. Because everyone has at least 10 minutes to spare
  98. Because you want to be stronger than your excuses
  99. Because not working out isn’t working out for you
  100. Because the only workout you ever regret is the one you skip

Which reason resonates with you?

Want more beautiful skin? Then get out and exercise!

It’s hardly news that exercise is great for your heart, lungs, and mental outlook. Here’s another reason to get moving: Regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy skin.

People tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant.

If you have dermatological conditions such as acne, rosacea, or psoriasis, you may need to take special care to keep your skin protected while exercising. But don’t let skin problems prevent you from being active. Here’s why.

By increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and keep them vital. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin . In addition to providing oxygen, blood flow also helps carry away waste products and toxins, including free radicals, from working cells. Contrary to some claims, exercise doesn’t detoxify the skin. The job of neutralizing toxins belongs mostly to the liver. By increasing blood flow, a bout of exercise helps flush cellular debris out of the system – it is cleansing your skin from the inside.

Exercise has also been shown to ease stress. By decreasing stress, some conditions that can be exacerbated by stress can show some improvement. Conditions that can improve when stress is reduced include acne and eczema. Although researchers are still investigating the link between stress and skin, studies show that the sebaceous glands, which produce oil in the skin, are influenced by stress hormones.

Regular exercise helps tone muscles, of course. That doesn’t have a direct affect on skin, dermatologists say. But firmer muscles definitely help you look better overall.

The Healthy Skin Workout

For all its many benefits, however, exercise can pose risks to your skin. Fortunately, protecting your skin is easy.

The main danger if you exercise outdoors is sun exposure. Sunburns increase skin cancer risk and can rapidly age the skin, erasing any benefits your skin might get from exercise. The key is to make sure you have optimal levels of vitamin D in your system. I you exercise in the winter outside in the northern hemisphere, then you won’t receive enough of the UVB rays to produce vitamin D, so put on the sunscreen otherwise the UBA rays, which cause cancer and age the skin will still make it through. In the summer though, put sunscreen on your face, but let your skin absorb the beneficial UVB rays on your legs, arms, and torso.

Don’t count of sunscreen alone to protect you, however. Sweating can remove the sunscreen that athletes put on and there is evidence that sweating actually increases the chance of burning. After athletes sweat, it takes 40% less UVA rays to burn than when they are not sweating.

Another skin problem that can arise during activity is chafing, which can cause rashes. For people prone to acne, the irritation and increased perspiration caused by tight-fitting workout clothes may lead to a form of acne aptly called acne mechanica. The two keys to prevention are to wear moisture-wicking clothing, such as bras and hats, to keep skin drier and cooler and to shower immediately after exercising. Wearing loose-fitting workout clothes can also help. Make sure your skin is clean before you work out to prevent clogged pores that lead to acne. Avoid wearing makeup when you exercise. After showering, apply a soothing skin moisturizer or powder to help prevent skin irritation.

Rx for Exercise-Related Skin Problems

Several other skin conditions can be exacerbated by physical activity, including rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. That’s no reason not to exercise. The benefits of exercise outweigh any temporary problems it can cause. And there are simple strategies to prevent flare-ups when you work out.

For rosacea sufferers, increased body temperature and the skin flushing that accompany exercise can cause flare-ups. The best strategy, dermatologists say, is to exercise in a cool environment. One of the best choices is swimming, since the water keeps skin cool even when you build up body temperature. Brisk walking in an air-conditioned mall or waiting until the cool of the evening to jog outside are other good options. If you do get flushed and overheated while exercising, apply cool compresses to problem areas of the skin immediately after your workout.

Eczema or psoriasis sufferers can also experience flare-ups after strenuous activity, usually caused by salt from perspiration. Apply a moisturizer before a workout to provide protection from sweat. Be especially careful to moisturize your arms and legs and areas with skin creases, such as underarms and groin. If possible, exercise in a cool environment to reduce perspiration and the need for showering after exercise. Washing too often can cause dryness and exacerbate eczema and psoriasis.

Physical activity can definitely pose a challenge, but in the long run it will pay off with a toned, better looking body, and more radiant skin.

Vitamin D & C aid in muscle recovery and speed recovery from ACL injury.

Can vitamin D reduce muscular weakness in healthy and active adults? What role does vitamin C play in the recovery of knee injuries? Can simple vitamin supplements help the body with pain and stiffness due to vigorous exercise and do vitamins respectively improve healing after surgery? Scientists from  “USANA Health Sciences“ and researchers at TOSH (The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital), a special clinic for orthopedics in Utah, are trying to answer exactly these questions with a variety of studies.

With the first study, Tyler Barker Ph., physiologist at TOSH, and Brian Dixon PhD., USANA scientist, are trying to determine whether vitamin D can reduce muscular weaknesses after high impact athletic exercise. Vitamin D is known to prevent or reduce cardiovascular disease, and after all, the heart is just one big muscle. “The conclusion here is that vitamin D helps to shorten the recovery time by minimizing the muscle weakness“, Dr. Barker explains: „That could mean a significant difference in the individual performance and help prevent some of the unpleasant after-effects of high impact or unaccustomed exercise. In addition, it creates the basis for future studies at the molecular and cellular level“.

Dr. Barker classifies the study’s participants as “weekend warriors“, who are between 18 and 45 years old and to date have not taken any vitamin supplements. The athletes were randomly divided into three groups. One group receives placebos. The second group receives 200 IU and the third group 4000 IU (international unit) of a specifically formulated vitamin D nutritional supplement. The participants provide blood samples and their muscular strength is being measured, each time prior and after intense exercise. The scientists only test the participants during the winter months when the vitamin D levels are at their lowest levels. The study began this past winter and is expected to continue for an additional two to three years.

The second study involves patients of TOSH who have suffered injuries in the anterior cruciate ligament. The scientists hope that the study is going to help them find a complementary therapeutic approach for improving musclular strength after surgery. “As published in “Free Radical Biology and Medicine“, we discovered a connection between the plasma ascorbic acid concentrations prior to surgery and the muscular strength gain after the surgery“, said Dr. Barker: “Especially patients with a higher vitamin C levels before the surgery showed a better recovery process“.

According to the “National Institute of Health“ the human body requires vitamin C in order to produce collagen which the body uses to to create skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It supports the healing of wounds and maintaining cartilage tissue, bones and teeth. Vitamins C and E belong to the antioxidants that slow down the aging process and help to eliminate free radicals. Dr. Barker believes that lowering oxidative stress and adequate vitamin C and E levels can improve the chances of recovery after a cruciate ligament surgery.

Note that USANA Health Sciences provided supplements for use in these studies. USANA is also the supplement to choice used by the US Olympic ski team, snowboard team, speed skating teams, US Luge, along with numerous Canadian and international Olympic teams. USANA is also the only supplement the Women’s Tennis Association allows their players to use. In addition there are numerous individual Olympic, professional, and amateur athletes using the USANA products. To support these athletes USANA has funded numerous research studies to help elite athletes improve their sports performance, enhance post workout recovery, and aid in injury recovery.

Fish Oil for Strength

A recent study of women in their 60’s suggests that taking fish oil when strength-training leads to greater improvements in strength than training alone. Women who took fish oil were not only stronger but had a greater functional capacity, such as being able to rise faster from a chair.

A small study in Brazil looked at the potential benefit of fish oil on strength training in older individuals, based on the fact that omega-3’s play a role in the plasma membrane and cell function of muscles (Rodacki, Am J Clin Nutr 2012). Forty-five mostly sedentary women in their mid-60s were given two doses a day of a gram of fish oil containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA. After twelve weeks of supervised lower-body resistance-training (3 times per week), the strength of those taking the fish oil had improved more than those who did not supplement. Functional capacity (e.g., the speed of rising from a chair) also increased more among those who took fish oil. There was no improvement in the strength of women who took fish oil without strength training, and taking fish oil for two months before training started did not confer added benefit.

ConsumerLabs.com is an independent testing organization who tests all types of supplements for quality, potency, contamination, etc. Below is what they had to say about fish oil quality:

Quality Concerns and What CL Tested for:
Because omega-3 fatty acids are obtained from natural sources, levels in supplements can vary, depending on the source and method of processing.

Contamination has also been an issue, because fish can accumulate toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Mercury can damage the nervous system — particularly in a fetus. Dioxins and PCBs may be carcinogenic at low levels of exposure over time and may have other deleterious effects.

The freshness of the oil is also an important consideration because rancid fish oils can have an extremely unpleasant odor and taste. While you can sometimes determine this yourself if you take fish oil directly as a liquid, it can be masked by added flavors and not readily detected if you use a softgel and other encapsulated product. There may be safety considerations with rancid fish oils due to a variety of compounds produced, some of which are odorless, such as peroxides. A study commissioned by the government of Norway (where fish oil supplement use is extremely high) concluded there would be some health concern related to the regular consumption of oxidized (rancid) fish/marine oils, particularly in regards to the gastrointestinal tract, but there is not enough data to determine the risk (The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, 2011). The study explained that the amount of spoilage and contamination in a supplement depends on the raw materials and processes of extraction, refining, concentration, encapsulation, storage and transportation. However, it saw no significant risk of contamination by microorganisms, proteins, lysophospholipids, cholesterol, and trans-fats.

Additionally, some capsules are enteric-coated and are expected to release the oil after the stomach to theoretically reduce fishy aftertaste or burp. If they release too soon they lose that potential benefit. If they release too late, the oil may not get absorbed.

Neither the FDA nor any other federal or state agency routinely tests fish or marine oil supplements for quality prior to sale. ConsumerLab.com, as part of its mission to independently evaluate products that affect health, wellness, and nutrition, purchased many dietary supplements sold in the U.S. claiming to contain EPA and/or DHA and tested them for their levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA and, if listed, ALA), mercury, lead, PCBs, and signs of decomposition. Enteric-coated capsules were tested to see if they properly released their ingredients. One product was additionally tested for dioxins at the request of its manufacturer. Among the products purchased and tested, the majority was for use by people and a few were for use by pets. Most of the supplements were softgel capsules or liquids.

What CL Found:
Among the 24 products that ConsumerLab.com selected for review, only 17 passed quality testing, meeting requirements for freshness and purity, and containing their claimed amounts omega-3 fatty acids. Seven (7) products failed to pass testing due to having less omega-3 than listed, spoilage, contamination, or problems with the enteric coating.

To insure you’re taking a quality fish oil product make sure it is manufactured to pharmaceutical good manufacturing practices (GMP) standards by a company which has been NSF certified as complying with pharmaceutical GMPs. Some companies claim their products are “Pharmaceutical Grade”, but this is only marketing as there is no definition of pharmaceutical grade for fish oil.

Going to Exercise, Have a Healthy Sports Drink

Sports drinks contain a fairly large amount of energy—a little more than half as many calories as the average soft drink. And, like soft drinks, sports drinks get most of their calories from sugar. These facts inspire many label-conscious runners to avoid using sports drinks during training. They see their workouts as opportunities to burn a lot of calories, and they don’t want to “counteract” that effect by taking in a lot of calories at the same time.
This is a reasonable way to think, but it’s mistaken, for more than one reason. First, research has shown that when people consume carbohydrate (such as the carbs in sports drinks) during exercise, they eat less during the remainder of the day. For example, at study conducted at Colorado State University found that when subjects consumed no carbohydrate during a workout, they ate 777 calories at their next meal. But when they took in 45 grams of carbs during a workout, they ate only 683 calories in their next meal. What’s more, the subjects consumed fewer total calories—including workout carbs—during the day in which they exercised with carbs than they did during the day when they exercised without carbs.
A second reason not to avoid using a sports drink during your runs simply because of the calories they contain is that the carbs in sports drinks enable you to run faster and longer, so you burn more calories in you workouts. Runners choose their pace by perception of effort. Consuming carbs during runs reduces perceived effort, so that the runner automatically runs faster at his or her chosen effort level. Studies have shown that athletes self-selected faster workout speeds when they consume carbs during exercise and thus burn more calories in a given time period.
Recently some runners have begun to avoid sports drinks during exercise not because of weight concerns but for a different reason. When carbs are consumed during exercise, the muscles burn less fat. Some runners fear that relying on sports drinks habitually during workouts will artificially limit the general increases in muscular fat-burning capacity that occur in training. This could conceivably limit endurance and hamper performance in longer races such as marathons.
Again, while such reasoning can’t be faulted, it is unfounded. This was proven in a recent study performed at the Australian Institute of Sport. Researchers divided a pool of trained cyclists and triathletes into separate groups and had each of them go through a 28-day block of training, with one group consuming carbs during every workout and the other group abstaining from carbohydrate intake during workouts. Performance was measured before and at the end of the training block in a cycling time trial. The researchers found that performance improved equally—7 percent on average—in both groups despite greater increases in fat-burning capacity in the no-carb group.
While this short-term study found that training with carbohydrate improved simulated race performance by the same amount as training without carbohydrate, literally scores of studies have found that consuming carbohydrate in races and time trials significantly enhances performance compared to competing without carbs. This fact points to one more reason not to avoid using sports drinks in training. Unless you don’t care about your finish time, you’re definitely going to use a sports drink during your races. Naturally, you’re not going to do anything during a race that you haven’t practiced in training. The more often you use a sports drink during training, the more comfortable you will be doing the same in races.
To summarize, there are no fewer than four reasons to go ahead and use a sports drink in your training runs “despite” the calories it contains:
  1. It will reduce the amount you eat the rest of the day;
  2. It will make you run faster and burn more calories;
  3. It will not impede improvements in your fitness by limiting your muscles’ fat-burning capacity; and
  4. It will give you valuable practice for using a sports drinks during races, which is essential.

Skin and Sun Tanning (or Burning) and What About Sunscreen

Skin, the body’s largest organ, is its protective covering that receives external sensory stimuli. It consists of the outer layer, or epidermis, over a thicker layer, the dermis.

Epidermis is made of cells that include immune defenses, sensory receptors, pigments cells and keratin producing cells. Keratin producing cells migrate to the surface and form a dead, relatively dry outer layer that continuously sloughs off.

Dermis contains sensory nerves and blood vessels within connective tissue. Fibers of collagen and elastin make skin tough yet elastic.

Is a suntan, as opposed to sunburn, good for you?

No, because there is no safe way to tan. Melanin is the body’s substance that gives pigmentation to skin and helps protect the skin from sun. A tan is a telltale sign of skin damage. When ultraviolet rays penetrate the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer, the body produces more melanin in response to the injury.

With each tan, damage accumulates. It increases your risk for all types of skin cancer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and International Agency for Research on Cancer panel have declared ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).

Ultraviolet light damage also accelerates the aging process. Chronic exposure to ultraviolet light, both natural and artificial, changes the skin’s texture, causing wrinkles and age spots.

What in ultraviolet light causes the damage?

Ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays can each cause harm.

  • UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin. UVA rays can cause suppression of the immune system, making it harder for your body to protect against development and spread of skin cancer. UVA rays also lead to premature aging of the skin through wrinkling and age spots.
  • UVB rays are the burning rays. They are the primary cause of sunburn.

How do you treat sunburn?

  • It can take up to 24 hours for all of the effects of sunburn to show.
  • The two most common types are first-degree and second-degree burns.
  • First-degree sunburns cause redness, but will heal, sometimes with peeling, within a few days. Cool baths, moisturizers and over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help.
  • Avoid “caine” products, such a benzocaine, as they might cause sensitivity to broad range of chemicals. Anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain.
  • Second-degree sunburns cause blisters. Such burns can be considered an emergency, if a large area of skin is affected. Don’t break the blisters because it can delay healing and lead to infection. A layer of gauze may be used to cover the area until healed.
  • If severe sunburn is accompanied by headache, chills or fever, seek medical help immediately.

What about sun and vitamin D?

  • Sun exposure prompts vitamin D production in the skin.
  • Wearing sunscreen does decrease the production of vitamin D. Those who worry about not getting enough vitamin D should talk to their doctors about getting sufficient vitamin D from food and vitamin supplements.

Now what about Sunscreen


Is SPF 30 twice as protective as SPF 15?  Sadly no,

Definition and Workings of Sunscreen:

  • Sunscreen is a lotion formulated with unique chemical components to absorb UV light.
  • When sunscreen is applied to the skin, the chemical molecules form an invisible, protective layer on the skin that protects from penetrating UV rays.
  • All sunscreens protect from UVB rays, but only “Broad-Spectrum” sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
  • UVB rays affect the top layers of the skin and are responsible for Burning.
  • UVA rays affect the lower layers of the skin and are responsible for Aging.
  • Remember to always buy a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum!

SPF… What’s it All About?

  • SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.”
  • Always wear a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher!
  • SPF was developed to describe the amount of protection that a sunscreen provides. No sunscreen can protect your skin from all of the UV rays, but a higher SPF number indicates protection from more rays.
  • The SPF number tells you how much longer you can stay outside without burning while wearing the sunscreen product as opposed to not wearing any sun protection product. SPF measures “time to burn.”

SPF Math

SPF Number x Time to Burn Without Sun Protection = Time to Burn while wearing sunscreen*

*assuming that sunscreen is applied properly

Example: If your skin would burn in 10 minutes in the afternoon sun without any sun protection, and you applied a sunscreen with an SPF 15, you would have 15 x 10 = 150 minutes (2.5 hours) before you would burn.

Percentage of Protection from damaging UV rays:
SPF 15 = 92%
SPF 30 = 97%
SPF 40 = 97.5%

There is some controversy about very high SPF numbers and just how much more protection they provide. As you can see from the percentages of protection of the different SPF numbers, the difference in UV ray protection in SPF numbers becomes minimal as the number increases past about 30 or 40. The difference of protection between SPF 15 and SPF 30 is great (5%), but the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 40 is minimal (0.5%).


The Confusing Part About Sunscreen

  • Many people think that SPF values can be added. Actually, SPF values cannot be added – if you apply a sunscreen of 8 and then one of 12, you will not have the protection of an SPF 20. You will only be getting the protection of an SPF 12.
  • Reapplication only helps to ensure that you have the amount of protection and time before you burn that you calculated when you first applied sunscreen that day. Since no sunscreens can protect your skin from all UV rays, some rays will get through.
  • After your calculated “time to burn” has expired, your skin has absorbed all the UV rays that it can handle before it will start to burn. Even if you reapply sunscreen at this point, you will still burn because some rays will get through to your skin and your skin has already been saturated with UV. Therefore, you need to get out of the sun at this point and let your skin rest before exposing it to more rays.
  • Reapplication only ensures that you have your original time outside – sunscreen can wear off because of sweat, wind, and other factors you need to reapply in order to be protected.
  • So what’s the lesson to be learned about sunscreen? If you know that you will be in the sun for a long period of time, start with a higher-SPF sunscreen in order to have protection for the entire time that you are exposed.