What Sunscreen to Use

Excerpt from Child Health Guide: Holistic Pediatrics for
Parents, North Atlantic Books, 2005

Sunny weather is here again and with it comes concerns about
sun exposure and sunburn. The sun is beneficial for its
ability to induce vitamin D production in our bodies. For
those people who take cod liver oil in the winter for its
vitamin D value, it may be prudent to switch during the
sunny summer months to fish oil or krill oil as an omega 3
supplement, which do not contain vitamin D. It may be
possible to build up too high a level of vitamin D in the
bloodstream. Be aware, however, that research has failed to
show any toxicity from vitamin D3 supplementation in adults
at dosages as high as 4,000 to 10,000 IU. The synthetic
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) has shown toxic potential. We
cannot get too much vitamin D from sun exposure.

Sunscreens are necessary for days with hours of time spent
in the sun, especially kids playing baseball, or playing at
the park, or swimming. As for sunscreens, I am very
concerned about the use of ingredients in most commercial
brands. Many of these chemical sunscreens have carcinogenic
and/or hormone disrupting effects. These include cinnamates,
PABA, oxybenzone, salicylates, benzophenones, and
triethenolamine, among others. These ingredients are
absorbed through the skin, and can be found in plasma and
urine samples after their use in humans. I don’t consider
them safe for anyone, especially children.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is contained in many “natural”
sunscreens, but this metal has also been implicated as a
potential problem in humans. Titanium dioxide has the
ability to cause DNA damage in human cells. Although the
Environmental Protection Agency has not identified any
carcinogenic effects of TiO2, its ability to alter DNA
strands is a cause for concern.

Zinc oxide is the only completely safe sunblocking agent. In
addition zinc oxide also has anti-inflammatory effects that
can help to mitigate damage caused by UV radiation. Zinc
oxide blocks both UVA and UVB radiation. Excellent sunscreen
products that contain only zinc oxide as the active
ingredient are made by UVNaturalUSA.com. Their Sport 30 is
the most water repellent of their products. These sunscreens
use a transparent zinc oxide that does not create a white
mask on the skin. They can be ordered through many online
sources and health food stores. These sunscreens are safe
for most infants as well. A thin layer works well. If
swimming, reapply every 2 hours.

Enjoy the sunny weather. Avoid getting sunburned and be
prudent about sun exposure at midday. Wear a hat. Protect
your eyes with UV sunglasses. Use a zinc oxide sunscreen.
And have fun.

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Avatar Written by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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