Sun provides natural Vitamin D; tips for a healthy summer

By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Jul. 12, 2013
Dr. Stacey Munro recommends taking advantage of local farmers' markets in the summer time, which offer many fresh, healthy foods.
Dr. Stacey Munro recommends taking advantage of local farmers' markets in the summer time, which offer many fresh, healthy foods.

Each year as summer approaches, stores begin advertising their favorite brands of sunscreens. Over the last few years, consumers may have noticed the number of sunscreens containing SPFs of 50, 70, 100 and 110 have been increasing. This is because of increased warnings about the negative effects of the sun.

Even so, “I think people are overly cautious with the sun,” said naturopathic doctor Stacey Munro. “We spend so much of our time indoors, especially here in New England; we don't get a lot of months where we get good sunlight.”

Munro, owner of Nature's Helper Medical Clinic located in Windsor, recommends being sensible in the sun, but not avoiding it altogether. Lighter-skinned people, she said, can ordinarily spend 15 to 20 minutes every day in the sun during non-peak hours – before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. Darker-skinned individuals can probably spend double the time in the sun, as the pigment found in darker skin blocks out sunlight, according to Munro.

However, those who are at high risk of developing skin conditions such as melanoma or other skin cancers, or who already suffer from these medical issues, should wear sunscreen whenever their bodies are exposed to the sun, said Munro. If a person who does not fall under the previous category feels comfortable enough, they can spend a short period of time in the sun during non-peak hours without sunscreen. During peak hours, which fall between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., she recommended wearing at least SPF 30 sunscreen. Anyone who is in doubt should, of course, consult their physician.

“I think there are so many benefits to getting some sun, I think you have to balance it,” said Munro. “You don't want to burn, obviously, but sunlight is detoxifying for the body. Also, it's good for the body; we all need it.”

Aside from receiving natural Vitamin D from the sun, not being over-indulgent at summer parties and gatherings is important when it comes to summer health. The key is moderation, she said. Munro recommended people take advantage of farmers' markets and eat as many fresh, healthy foods as possible. These types of foods are especially plentiful in the summertime, so it is a great time to try new recipes, she said.

“Being healthy is something you have to be motivated to do, because you are going to be swimming upstream and sometimes going against what your family and friends are doing,” she said. "The rewards are that you feel good and you don't have to rely on medication to keep you alive.”

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