TOPIC · SUNLIGHT - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Every week I am posting about everything you need to know about hormones. This weeks topic is about sunlight.
Did you know – Sunlight
- The Sun is a ball of gas that is so hot it glows, giving off light
- The Sun is: 865,000 miles / 1,392,000 km in diameter, so large that a million Earths can fit inside it
- The Earth orbits the sun from a distance of 93 million miles / 150 million km
- The surface temperature of the Sun is 11,000 degrees F / 6093 degrees C
- The temperature at the Sun’s core is 27 million degrees F / 15 million degrees C
- The Sun is the heart of our solar system
- Called a yellow dwarf star, because it’s small compared to other Suns
- Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest particles of debris in its orbit.
- Electrical currents in the Sun generate a magnetic field
- The Sun rotates on its own axis about once every 25 days.
- The Sun is in the middle of its lifetime and has about 5 billion more years before it burns itself out.
- Light travels at a speed of 300,000km per second. At this speed, Sunlight takes 8 ½ minutes to reach Earth.
- Without the Sun’s warmth and light, the Earth would be an icy rock without life.
- Interactions between the Sun and Earth drive the Earth’s seasons, ocean currents, weather, climate, radiation belts.
- Fundamentally the sun provides life-giving light, heat, and energy to Earth
- Without sunlight, the Earth’s surface would be approx. 90° F / 32°C colder
Meet Sally and get to know all about sunlight
Vitamin D production
Vitamin D deficiency
Sunlight and your mood
The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum is the range of all types of EM radiation. Radiation is energy that travels and spreads out as it goes.
- Gamma rays – the shortest, most ‘damaging’ wavelengths
- Ultraviolet – from the sun
- Visible light – from the sun
- Infrared – from the sun
- Microwaves (a subsection of radio waves)
- Radio waves – the longest, least ‘damaging’ wavelengths
EM in everyday life
Are emitted by stars and gases in space, and radio stations like Monster Radio, bringing your favourite tunes.
Will cook your popcorn in just a few minutes, also used by astronomers to learn about the structure of nearby galaxies.
Is emitted by the sun, night vision goggles pick up the infrared light emitted by our skin and other objects with heat. Because of its ability to create heat infrared is also used in pain treatments
Our eyes detect visible light providing the colours of the universe. The sun and other stars, fireflies, and light bulbs all emit visible light.
Is emitted by the Sun and is the reason skin tans and burns, Vitamin D production and skin cancers. “Hot” objects in space can also emit UV radiation.
Is emitted by hot gases in the universe. Used by the medical world to get images of body parts, and airport security uses them to see through your bag.
The biggest gamma-ray generator of all is the Universe. The medical world use gamma-ray imaging to see inside your body.
The Sunlight Spectrum
- Also called solar radiation is the electromagnetic energy from the sun.
- It provides light and heat for the Earth and energy for photosynthesis – the plant process that creates oxygen and glucose and reduces CO2.
- The amount and intensity of sunlight is affected by things like latitude, season, time of day, cloud cover and altitude and some of it will be absorbed, reflected or scattered in the atmosphere.
- There are three bands, or ranges of light, within the spectrum:
– Ultraviolet 8%
– Visible 42.3%
– Infrared 49.4%
- Each of these band’s impact the environment differently.
- Sunlight is measured in wavelengths defined as the distance from peak to peak in a wave and is measured in nanometers (nm).
- The shorter the ‘wave’, distance between the peaks the higher the energy
- Ultraviolet light has the shortest wave and thereby the highest energy which can create changes in molecules such as cholesterol in the production of Vitamin D, but can cause create changes and damage to DNA and other important cellular structures, increasing aging and worse-case scenario cancer
- Ultraviolet contains wavelengths between 100-400 nm.
- Visible light which gives colour falls within the range of 400-700 nm – the longer wavelengths give the red colours while the shorter wavelengths give blue and violet colours
- Infrared light contains wavelengths from 700 nm to over 1 mm and create heat.
Ultraviolet Light – 3 types
- UV-C wavelengths
between 100 and 280 nm. closest to X-rays and can cause most damage. Mostly absorbed by the ozone, very little reaches the earth
- UV-B wavelengths
between 280-320 nm are partially absorbed in the ozone. These rays are known for synthesis of Vitamin D from cholesterol, burning the surface of your skin, and over time causing skin cancer in humans. These rays impair photosynthesis in many plants.
- UV-A wavelengths
between 320-400 nm have less energy than UV-B, and is not absorbed by ozone in the atmosphere, but can be blocked from the surface by cloud cover or smog. Is also known as blacklight, and is responsible for sunburns in humans These rays deeply penetrate the skin, causing aging and wrinkles. These rays are more inhibiting than UV-B in regards to photosynthesis
All UV wavelengths can directly affect DNA, the shorter the wavelength, the more damage it is capable of causi.
- Is what it says visible – with this light we can see everything around us in colour
- It is also called Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR)
- It is the ONLY light wavelength for plant photosynthesis.
- Visible light is the EM spectrum giving blue/violet to red light.
- Blue light has a higher energy and shorter wavelength than green or red light.
- Red light has the lowest energy.
- As visible light wavelengths reach the Earth, surfaces absorb or reflect different wavelengths, creating a visible colour.
- If the surface reflects all of the visible wavelengths, it will appear white
- Most plants appear green as the chlorophyll in their cells reflects green light
- Water often appears blue as this wavelength travels the deepest before being absorbed
- While on land, plants use nearly all of the visible range for photosynthesis giving an array of amazing colours.
- Consider this! – We know that both UV and Infrared light affect the body in different ways is it not logical that the energy in visible light aka colours also affect the body? So think about that next time you chose a colour for a room or of the dress you are wearing!
- Is responsible for warming the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.
- Is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Ultraviolet light with wavelengths longer than 700 nm
- Infrared radiation is readily absorbed by the body and is converted to heat and has been used as a pain treatment for many years
- I learnt to use this as a recognised physiotherapy treatment back in the 1970’s
- Is used in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine
- The therapy is safe and natural, and an alternative treatment for muscle pain, joint stiffness, arthritis, etc.
- Infrared therapy can have many affects, such as improved detoxification, pain relief, reduction of muscle tension, relaxation, improved circulation, skin cleansing, decreasing blood pressure, etc.
Two types of Infrared rays
Closest to visible light waves – possibly best for pain treatment
Closest to microwaves – possibly best for detoxification and improved circulation
What are the Health Benefits of Infrared Therapy?
- Far Infrared increases nitric oxide production – a signalling molecule important for dilating of blood vessels thus improving circulation and decreasing blood pressure.
- The improved blood circulation, provides more oxygen and nutrients thus improving wound healing and regeneration of injured tissues, reducing inflammation and pain
- Nitric oxide also combats free radicals to prevent oxidative stress.
- Infrared rays increase energy ATP production in mitochondria. This affects all cell activity such as growth and repair.
- Far Infrared applied through saunas can increase detoxification by increasing the body’s core temperature. Far infrared saunas can also improve sleep, relaxation, weight loss, relief from sore muscles and joint pain, clear and tighten skin, increase circulation, may even have a positive effect on cancer cells
Thermal or heat injuries can happen – even without pain.
Also, pregnant women, people with heart diseases, and those who are sick should avoid infrared therapy.
What is Photosynthesis – Why is it important?
Photosynthesis is the process in which plants uses sunlight energy, CO2, and water to make glucose and release oxygen as a by-product.
- Creates glucose for energy production
- Creates oxygen which is released to the atmosphere
- Absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere
- Can ONLY use the energy from visible light, UV too much energy, Infrared too little
Without photosynthesis there would be no oxygen ie. there would be no animal / human life on earth.
Vitamin D production
- Known as the sunshine vitamin
- Is produced in the special cells called keratinocytes in the epidermis of the skin when the skin is exposed to UV-B rays
- Keratinocytes covert cholesterol to cholecalciferol known as D3
- In the summer when the sun is high and your shadow shorter than you Vitamin D production is at its highest
- Studies show that 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a week, naked, in the middle of the day is optimal for D3 production
- In the autumn and winter where the sun is low (or non-existent) D3 production is minimal and deficiency can be a problem for many, especially from December to April
- D3 is transported to the liver where it is converted to calcifediol (25-hydroxycholecalciferol) and can be stored for up to 3 months
- Finally, calcifediol is sent to the kidneys where it is converted to calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol), the active form of vitamin D, which is also a hormone.
As there are many reasons why production of the Sunshine Vitamin can go wrong eating a diet rich in Vitamin D is advisable where Vitamin D3 is superior
- Vitamin D3 in foods, such as liver, cod liver oil, oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, herring, eel, salmon, eggs especially the yolk and as a supplement
- Vitamin D2 can be found in fungi cultivated under UV-light, processed foods fortified with Vitamin D and in supplements
- Vitamin D3 supplements – this product is absorbed in the mouth bypassing the gut, excellent for you with possible impaired gut absorption.
Why are you deficient in Vit D?
- Not enough UV-B rays due to:
– low sunlight exposure due to winter, such as living in countries far from the equator
– homebound, due to illness, etc
– office-bound, many of us work inside all day long
– over use of sunscreen
– over protected from clothing
– darker skin – melanin blocks the UV rays
- Diets deficient in Vit D, such as Vegan diets
- Genetics – low enzyme activity needed for the conversions in the liver and kidneys
- Poor liver function, such as fatty liver
- Poor kidney function
- Poor gut health which affects the absorption of Vit D from foods, such as Crohns, Celiac
- Obesity – Vitamin D is fat soluble and can be taken from circulation to be stored in fat cells.
- Gastric bypass surgery – weight loss surgery decreases Vitamin D absorption from foods
- Using certain medications can impact vitamin D metabolism, such as some antibiotics, anti-seizure, anti-cancer drugs, antifungal agents, anti-HIV drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs – corticosteroids, the herb St. John’s wort
- Aging – all cells and organs function less as we age, especially the liver and kidneys
What is your level?
- Only way to know for sure is a blood test, which can be done through your doctor or privately
- Buy your test – follow link below
– 75 nmol/L or 30 ng/ml
– Some studies suggest that levels between 90 -100 nmol/L / 36-40 ng/mL may actually be better
Symptoms and Diseases of Vitamin D deficiency
The following symptoms can be an indication of low Vitamin D, but as they can also be due to other causes blood testing is necessary for an accurate diagnosis:
- Bone pain and back pain
- Bone loss
- Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
- Mood changes, like depression
- Frequent infections
- Impaired healing
- Hair loss
- Autoimmune diseases, such as MS, RA, Type 1 diabetes
- Some forms of cancer, such as breast and colon
- Immune dysfunction
- Problems with the Cardio-vascular and nervous systems.
Sunlight and Skin Cancer
- The same UVB wavelengths (290-320 nm) that synthesize vitamin D are also the wavelengths that produce genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer.
- Premature Skin aging caused by sun’s longer-wave UVA radiation (320-400 nm) can also lead to skin cancer
- The damage to the skin’s pigment cells called melanocytes, which by the way continues hours after the sun exposure ends can lead to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Skin cancer protection
- Decease sun exposure in any way possible
- Chemical protection
daily use of SPF 15+ broad-spectrum (UVA-UVB) sunscreen
- Physical protection
keep in the shade, sun-protective clothing with SPF, wide-brimmed hats and UV-filtering sunglasses.
- Is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) aka The Sun
- Caused primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds.
- The sun’s UV-B rays can cause direct damage to DNA affecting the cell’s ability to repair, which can lead to skin cancer
- The sun’s longer-wave UV-A rays can also lead to skin cancer
- UV-A damage can start after less than a minute in the sun.
- UV exposure can also damage your eyes, such as eyelids, cornea, lens and other parts of the eyes.
- UV exposure can also contribute to the development of certain types of cataracts, growths on the eyes and possibly macular degeneration.
How to control photoaging
- Avoid sun exposure when the sun is strongest, usually between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Sit under umbrellas and in the shade when possible.
- Wear a wide-brim hat to protect your face.
- Wear protective clothing, such as loose-fitting clothes with an SPF factor
- Wear UV filtered sunglasses
- The purpose of sunscreens is to block the UV rays of the sun
- The Sun Protection Factor- SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. Eg. Using SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to go red / burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen
- But creaming once a day isn’t enough, sunscreen should be applied every hour or 2 hours ti maintain maximum protection
- Unfortunately, most types of sun-screen use chemicals to block the UV rays that can easily penetrate the skin, cause inflammation, disrupt hormone balance, and increase toxic burden that the liver needs to sort out.
- While safe sunscreen is good for protecting your skin, be aware that it is also a cause of vitamin D deficiency.
Sunscreen Toxins to Avoid
Before you cover yourself or your kids with sunscreen, grab your bottle and check the ingredients for the following potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals:
A chemical that absorbs and filters UV rays. However, it penetrates the skin and mimics Estrogen in the body, leading to hormonal imbalances and potential infertility.
A cheap UV filter, making it a popular choice for many sunscreen manufacturers. Is also, a hormone disruptor, creating problems the Thyroid, among others. Octinoxate also causes ‘coral bleaching’ so careful not to use this when snorkelling.
A UV filter and hormone disrupter. Also disrupt liver detoxification processes.
A form of vitamin A believed to slow skin aging but it breaks down in sunlight, creating free radicals leading to skin problems, even skin cancer. And can lead to hormonal imbalances.
A preservative designed to delay bacterial and fungal growth, but are unfortunately also hormone disruptors
Are used to make the product more ‘appealing’, but unfortunately can cause hormonal disruption and toxin build up. The word “fragrance” on the label, can include any number of toxic chemicals which don’t have to be listed individually.
The Dangers of Spray Sunscreen
- The contents of the sunscreen are broken down into smaller molecules that fill the air around you as you spray the skin.
- This means that anyone, including yourself can end up breathing in any chemicals exposing both the lungs and the skin
- This can increase the risk of breathing problems such as asthma.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Choose a sunscreen with mineral-based physical filter and/or the new generation chemical filters.
Protect the skin by reflecting and scattering the UV-B and UV-A rays
Zinc oxide is effective at blocking ultraviolet-B and both short- and long-wave ultraviolet-A rays.
Titanium dioxide is effective at blocking ultraviolet-B and short-wave ultraviolet-A rays,
While the mineral-based sunscreens are not chemical they unfortunately don’t offer complete protection and can be ’heavy’ on the skin and visible unless nano-particle minerals are used, which may result in other side effects
There are no 100% green, effective filters that stop all the UV rays
New generation chemical filters
Are biodegradable, more eco-friendly and reef safe
Ethylhexyl Triazone gives the highest photo-stable absorption of UV-B rays
Diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate gives protection specifically against UV-A rays.
The sun’s UV rays can be more damaging than the chemical filters, just make sure for your health and the health of the coral that the products you use contain mineral or new generation chemical filters
These products contain new generation chemical filters
https://www.bakskincare.com/products/sun-protection-serum – Use the code HEALTHYSKIN for 15%
• Reapply sunscreen every few hours.
Sunscreen does not last all day! Make sure to re-apply frequently if you are out in the sun for long periods of time.
• Realize that no product can protect us 100%.
While it’s good to protect ourselves with sunscreen, we can’t rely solely on sunscreen to keep us safe. It’s best to support our sunscreen with other sun safety measures.
• Cover up.
Protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, use a hat, use sunglasses with UV filter and take other precautions to avoid direct sunlight as needed, like get in the shade or go inside.
• Eat a healthy diet.
The skin will be healthier and less likely to burn quickly when we eat a diet rich in healthy fats, and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals especially those that support melanin production like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and copper.
LED light therapy
Light Emitting Diode therapy, is a skincare treatment that uses varying wavelengths of visible light, including red and blue.
NASA originally developed it for plant growth experiments on shuttle missions and later found it to be good for wound treatment.
U.S. Navy SEALs began using it in the 1990s to help heal wounds quickly and to help regenerate damaged muscle tissues.
LED light therapy is now used in the beauty world to help regenerate the skin from aging and treat acne, where it is mainly noted for increasing collagen.
Red is primarily used for anti-aging
Blue is used for acne treatment.
All of the frequencies, or wavelengths are within the visible light spectrum and contain no ultraviolet or infrared rays.
Red light is used for treating the epidermis, which is the outer layer of skin. When the red light is applied to your skin it stimulates collagen production.
In theory, more collagen means that your skin will look smoother and plumper, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Red LED light is also thought to reduce inflammation while improving circulation, which can give you a healthier glow.
Blue LED light therapy targets the sebaceous glands, also called oil glands, which are located around the hair follicles.
Sebaceous glands are necessary for lubricating your skin and hair so it doesn’t dry out. However, these glands can become overactive, leading to oily skin and acne.
The theory is that blue LED light therapy can target these oil glands and make them less active. In turn, you may see fewer acne breakouts.
Blue light can also kill acne-causing bacteria, which can help treat severe acne pimples, including cysts and nodules.
Oftentimes, blue LED light is used in conjunction with red LED light to:
- help treat acne
- decrease scarring
- promote anti-inflammatory effects
- one 2018 animal study found that blue LED improved healing of third-degree skin burns.
LED in the comfort of your own home
The benefits of LED lights are cumulative that’s why having your own device is a good thing. You can use when you like and save time and money on going to the beauty salons
But if you’re going to spend money on the product, remember you need to be diligent.
For best results I recommend 5 minutes, 2 – 4 times per week, but everyone is different, so start with twice a week and build up from there.
The Power of the Colours
Colour therapy or colour medicine is based on the idea that colours affect the body’s EM field stimulating change in hormonal and biochemical processes in the body. These processes either stimulate or calm us emotionally as well as physically.
- makes you feel creative.
- is associated with mystery, creativity, royalty and wealth.
- lighter shades are often used to soothe or calm
- makes you feel safe and relaxed
- evokes feelings of calmness and spirituality
- evokes feelings of security and trust.
- Seeing the colour blue may increase the production of the neurotransmitter GABA
- makes you feel optimistic and refreshed.
- symbolizes health, new beginnings and wealth
- easiest on the eyes
- can also be calming and relaxing.
- Seeing the colour green may increase the production of the neurotransmitter Dopamine and decrease Noradrenaline
- makes you feel happy and spontaneous.
- the most energetic of the warm colours.
- associated with laughter, hope and sunshine
- Seeing the colour yellow may decrease the production of the neurotransmitter GABA and increase Serotonin
- makes you feel energized and enthusiastic.
- enhances a feeling of vitality and happiness.
- can be aggressive but balanced
- can be inviting and friendly.
- Seeing the colour orange may increase the production of the neurotransmitters Aspartate and Glutamate
- makes you feel passionate and energized.
- is the warmest and most dynamic of the colours
- triggers opposing emotions
- associated with passion and love as well as anger and danger
- increase heart rate and excitement.
- Seeing the colour red may increase the production of the neurotransmitter Histamine
Sunscreen and Marine Life
14,000 tons of sunscreen are thought to wash into the oceans each year.
Hawaii, Aruba and Palua are just some of the territories that have banned the use of Oxybenzone sun creams to help protect coral reefs and the marine life that depends on the reefs for survival.
Without coral, fish lose part of their habitat, even fish that swim in European seas and their genetic make-up can be put at risk by sun cream filters
It can be confusing to know if your sunscreen contains this ingredient as in EU sun creams the ingredient is listed as Benzophenone-3, but it is perhaps more commonly known by its American name, Oxybenzone
Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate) is also widely used in many brands of sunscreen and studies have shown that this sun cream ingredient is a hormone-disrupting chemical which mimics Estrogen and could genetically alter the gender of fish (and humans?)
How sunscreen chemicals enter our environment
The sunscreen you apply are washed off when we swim or shower, etc., and enter our waterways.
How sunscreen chemicals can affect marine life
Can impair growth and photosynthesis.
Can accumulate in tissues and can induce bleaching, damage DNA, deform young, even kill.
Can induce defects in young.
Can damage immune and reproductive systems, and deform young.
Can decrease fertility and reproduction, and cause female characteristics in male fish.
Can accumulate in tissue and be transferred to young.
Chemicals in some sunscreens that can harm marine life include
- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor
- 3-Benzylidene camphor
- nano-Titanium dioxide
- nano-Zinc oxide