Get a better understanding of sunscreen SPF numbers.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, provides numerous health benefits, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth, supporting the immune system, regulating insulin levels, and supporting lung function and cardiovascular health.

As we begin to spend more time outdoors, it’s good to reacquaint ourselves with sunscreen and why it should always be a part of our time in the sun.

For all its natural wonder, we still need to protect ourselves from the sun’s more harmful rays — ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation. The strongest sunscreens, labeled Broad Spectrum, protect against both UVB and UVA rays. These rays have been linked to skin cancer, premature skin aging and, of course, sunburn.

Sunscreens work by absorbing and reflecting the sun’s ultraviolet light, keeping its rays from harming the skin and dermis. If you are concerned that using sunscreen will cut down on the vitamin D you receive, try supplementation, eating fatty fish like salmon or tuna, or consuming more dairy products.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a broad- spectrum sunscreen that is water resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher. There are many sunscreens on the market made for specific purposes like sensitive skin or infant care. Read the labels and make sure you are getting the right product for your specific needs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the regulating body for sunscreen products. Over the last few years, the FDA has required sunscreen companies to adjust language on packaging to better reflect product standards. Companies are no longer allowed to call products sunblock (it doesn’t completely block all the rays) and cannot make claims that sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof.”

Just remember to keep yourself covered and enjoy your time in the sun.

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