Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Made My Kids Eat Their Sunscreen

I've been surprised to have actually had people e-mailing me asking me about me mentioning our use of sunscreen or lack thereof and I certainly don't want to disappoint anyone that might be following my adventures.. So, I must respond to the masses.  Or, the all two of you that were interested..

You did read the title right... Sort of.. I made my children eat their sunscreen...

Please read full post before reporting me to well, whatever agency one reports naughty parents to these days.

I am not talking about the stuff that comes in a bottle.. I'm talking about eating a diet that is chalked full of nutrients that protect your skin... I am also not advocating unlimited sun exposure.. However, I have come to believe that we have been misinformed about sun exposure and for those of you that expressed interest in my experiments with this, I thought I'd share... 

In 2008, when my oldest daughter broke her leg, jumping in a bounce round at a birthday party, I started evaluating her calcium intake, questioning whether she was getting enough to keep her bones strong... After counting grams, some blood test and some conversations with the pediatrician and a nutritionist, we determined that it wasn't calcium that she was deficient in but Vitamin D.

* Vitamin D plays a vital role in the bodies ability to process calcium

* Lack of Vitamin D can trigger infections (influenza and tuberculosis), autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease), cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

* Many epidemiological, cohort, and case control studies prove, at least on a more likely than not basis, that vitamin D supplements and adequate exposure to sunlight play an important role in cancer prevention (Am J Public Health 2006;96:252–261).

* The amount of Vitamin D absorbed from the sun varies by person. A darker skinned person needs more sun exposure to receive the adequate amount of vitamin D.

I feel the need to say once more, that the information included in the above cited articles support the idea of moderate sun exposure. Not unlimited sun exposure. Please do not go to the beach, get fried and then sue me. Almost everything that I've read says that when you've reached the point that your skin starts to turn pink, your body has absorbed as much Vitamin D as it can at one time.

During my Vitamin D research, I started reading articles with information about eating foods high in antioxidants that protect your skin from the damaging effects that can be caused from excessive skin exposure..

Here, you will find some great information about eating to reverse the signs of aging

and here, you will find a great information about eating to develop an internal sunscreen.

And so of course, I put the theory to the test. Pre-Chloe, my brown eyed, olive skinned husband, my brown eyed, olive skinned, daughter and myself (green eyed, light hair, honey complexion) headed to the beach.. Before our trip, I had stuffed my daughter and myself full of antioxidant rich foods while my husband seemed to be laughing under his breath.. When we got to the beach, I coated myself and my daughter with a sunscreen of SPF 8 and my husband used SPF 30.. Based on our skin tones, though I can develop a tan, I should burn more easily then my husband (and I had in the past).. My daughter and I went home with a nice golden tan, my husband, fried...

After hearing all the bad press on the damaging chemicals in sunscreen, I decided to test my theory further.. This year, before our beach trip, my husband remarkably, was much more willing to join me in my quest for nutritional sun protection. And we headed off to the beach prepared with months of eating Salmon, flax seed, leafy green vegetables and the brightest fruits I could find.. We limited our beach time to mornings and afternoons, returning to our hotel room for a nice nap during the peak sun hours of the day. I finally applied sunscreen the last two hours of our third and last day because I thought I saw a hint of pink on someone's shoulders. And we returned home with nice golden tans with very little use of sunscreen... Every one of us..

I would never recommend someone ditching sunscreen all together and my children are dark complected and need much less than a fair skinned child would. Like with most things, I try to find a balance. And, it can never hurt to eat more fruits and vegetables. Right?

For those of you that asked what chemicals to avoid in sunscreen... That's something I'm still learning about. If anyone reading has more information on that, I'd love hear it! If you are interested in learning more about chemicals in sunscreen, I think this article at "Healthy Tidbits for Kids" is a good place to start. I try to stick with California Baby because it is an organic brand. It's worked well for us because my children don't require much. But, it's expensive. But, if you've ever suffered a sunburn, you know that's never fun. So, at times when I don't have the organic sunscreen on hand, I try to see what poses the biggest threat, the sun or the sunscreen and make the best judgment I can.. A lot of times, that means using whatever sunscreen is available but more often, simply limiting our time in the sun.

And so you have, Operation Eat our Sunscreen..

For my family that means:

*A diet that stuffs us full of antioxidants
 (I mean change your poop the color of whatever fruit you're eating kind of stuff)
* Avoiding peak sun hours
* limited, organic, sunscreen use

How about you? What are your thoughts on sun protection?

I'm apart of the Green Mom Blog Hop!  Who Would have known?
Thanks for the Invite Gals!


Stephanie @ dirtandlace.com said...

I'm fascinated. I feel silly for having no idea about any of this but now I'm going to do more research. I have one very fair-skinned daughter so I would love to know what I could be feeding her more of to keep her skin from burning so quickly. Thanks for sharing!

I found you through the Tuesday blog hop, by the way!


Kylie said...

I have been wondering about this. My sister and I were talking about it the other day. We are white as white, but both married men with darker complexions (my hubby is Polynesian and hers is European) so both our kids have lovely skin.

We wondered how you could not use sunscreen and I will definitely be sending her this post, as well as sending it to a few other friends! Thanks heaps.

I'm your newest follower! And I am sooooo glad I found you!

Unknown said...

I am also doing research on this. For now, my kids wear swim shirts, and we use Coppertone Pure and Simple, which is rated well by the EWG (see link below). We are all very fair-skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes, so I do have to be very careful. I do, however, let my kids play for a little while before applying the sunscreen so we can soak up some Vitamin D. I need to read more about eating foods for protection. I appreciate you sharing your experience!


Christy said...

This explains it! I am normally very pale and never have I ever sported a tan unless it was applied from a bottle. Throughout my entire pregnancy I have craved raw leafy greens and fruits especially watermelon and cantaloupe. I have eaten more cantaloupe and watermelon in the last 8 months than I have eaten in a lifetime. I noticed that my complexion has darkened and I don't burn near as easily when I've been lounging in the pool all day. I thought this change in my complexion was due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, but now I'm convinced it’s due to the antioxidant rich foods I’ve been eating!

This is AWESOME information and I will definitely be keeping this in mind for the months leading up to summertime with my little one. Poor baby, I’m afraid she’s going to be pasty-pale just like her Momma and Daddy! Thanks Dana!

Maria Trochelman said...

hi! I found your blog through FMBT, and I'm your newest follower!

I LOVED this post! I really didn't know much about it, and I can't wait to read more! Thanks for sharing!!

Kate said...

Absolutely spot on!! Thanks for writing about this. I hate it that the sun has become an evil thing to be avoided at all costs. Everyone has forgotten that the sun has unbelievable healing properties.

In fact, I have been reading recently, articles that suggest skin cancer is NOT caused by the sun, but rather by the foods we eat, and the chemicals in our sun screen. How else do you explain the fact that office workers are more likely to get skin cancer than outside labourers? Or the fact that our ancestors were rarely, if ever, troubled by skin cancer, yet spent far more time in the sun than we do today...but we have a skin cancer rate of 1 in 3 (here in Oz at least).

Good work. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dana! THank you so much for stopping by! I'm following you back!

This is such great info. I feel silly because I didn't know any of this but I'm glad I do now! Thank you!!!


Lisa said...

Hi! I'm your newest follower from FMBT!!! :) Great post! I have been preaching the dangers of sunscreen for years. I have 6 kids and can't remember the last time we used it. Better to put on a cotton t-shirt if necessary. Looking forward to reading more on your blog.

Hope you'll come visit me soon and follow back.
Lisa xoxo
Raising Future Leaders

Unknown said...

Very interesting. I put sunscreen on my daughter, but mostly I keep an eye on what time of the day and how long she is in the sun. She is 16 months and we haven't had a problem yet. Following you back from the green blog hop.

Unknown said...

Hi there! I LOVE this post! People just don't know the benefits of Vitamin D. It really is amazing! Thanks so much for posting this! You should add a tweet this button to your posts so it can be shared!

Following you now! Its always nice to meet like minded moms! Come by and check out my blog if you get a chance and follow back?

Amy @ Rendermemama.blogspot.com

Courtney said...

LOVE this post! I hate using sunscreen and feel like a bad mom when I don't but I know the sun is healthy with the right dosage and most sunscreens are not healthy.

Not a FB girl? I'd love to Share this. I'm not big on Twitter yet.

Thanks for the comments on my new blog and totally following you back!

Unknown said...

I have a friend who went to South Africa once on a trip...her friend that she stayed with there didn't use sunscreen either (on her or her children). I can't remember exactly, but I think they ate a ton of sweet potatoes (or some other bright orange vegetable) sometime before heading out and didn't need any sunscreen! Crazy, but awesome!

Krissy said...

That is so very interesting! I'm very fair skinned and I usually burn like crazy. I never tan. This year, I started eating pretty healthy, healthier than I had ever eaten before. Surprisingly, I'm tanning this year, though I'm also still burning a bit. I was wondering what could have been the change. :)

New follower from Tuesday Tag Along! Hopefully you can visit us and follow back as well!


Jacqie said...

Thanks for the information! What a great piece to read.

Thanks for joining the Green Blog Hop! Now following.

Jacqie @ talesofthewife.blogspot.com

Jen said...

This is totally blowing my mind. Thanks for the interesting read!

Unknown said...

Dana- I am a new follower. LOve your blog. Thanks for the info on my broken links at Lily's Laundry they are fixed! Jonied the Momtage FB PAGE!