Most people wouldn’t even think of driving their cars without first buckling their seat-belts, and with good reason. They’re an excellent precaution to take and continue to save countless lives. But wearing seat-belts isn’t the only thing we need to do to protect ourselves while on the roads.
What’s Out of Sight, Still Keep in Mind
We see daily reminders, in the form of accidents, of why following the traffic laws is so important to our safety. But we don’t see UV (ultraviolet) rays. Unprotected exposure to UV rays while driving can cause skin damage and melanoma, which can eventually lead to the same unfortunate result as a fatal car wreck. Just not quite as quickly.
Thanks to the added plastic layer that keeps them from shattering, windshields offer protection against the effects of UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, aside from higher-end vehicles such as those built by Lexus and Mercedes, that’s not the case with rear and side windows. They block UVB rays, but still allow enough UVA rays in to damage our skin. And while window tints are useful at helping to preserve a driver’s anonymity, they’re useless at increasing UVA protection.
Sunshine on Your Shoulder Won’t Make You Happy
With apologies to the late John Denver, the sunlight that penetrates insufficiently-protected car windows can do real damage to the skin of an exposed shoulder. And more frequently to the left side of a driver’s face, as it’s rarely (if ever) covered up.
Glass is Now in Session
Researchers have learned that, while both genders are affected by skin cancers and melanomas on the left side of their faces, the occurrences are more frequent in male drivers. This may in part be due to women being more attentive to their faces regarding sunscreen and sunscreen-infused cosmetics.
A simple Google or Amazon search will yield numerous low-cost plastic UVA-blocking films that can easily be installed on either car or home window glass. Purchasing both types will provide optimum protection.
Now See Here
Nearly all plastic lenses within prescription eyeglasses protect completely against both UVB and UVA rays. The UV coatings often pitched by opticians are unnecessary. The only exception is CR39 lenses. They’ll protect you against UVA rays, but still allow 10% transmission of UVB. Adding clip-on sunglasses over prescription glasses with plastic lenses won’t offer you any significant UVA protection. However, wrap-around sunglasses will protect more skin around your eyes.
An Awesome Spectacle
There is no reason to empty your wallet on a high-cost pair of protective shades. Any non-prescription plastic-lens sunglasses labelled either “100% UV Protective” or “UV 400”, will provide you with complete protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
You can find a good variety of these sunglasses for as little as one buck at any dollar store, or $5-$10 at most discount “Big Box” retailers. You’ll look great while keeping your eyes safe. And if you lose the pair you can easily replace them for pocket change.
The Greenhouse Effect
If you plan on building a greenhouse on your property, choose clear polyethylene sheeting instead of glass. The former contains UV absorbing additives that will protect all occupants against both UVA and UVB rays.
There is, to some extent, confusion within the public as to whether sun exposure is needed to obtain the amount of Vitamin D sufficient to meet our bodily requirements. And, if it is; how much? If this includes you, we’re glad you’re here. At the Melanoma Education Foundation, education is literally our middle name.
The type of Vitamin D humans need to process calcium and maintain healthy bones is known officially as Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). And as long as you provide your body with an adequate amount, sun exposure for the purposes of acquiring Vitamin D is unnecessary.
The time required to spend in the sun to get it is minimal. (3-4 minutes on exposed arms a few times each week) Most of us will likely satisfy that requirement merely by going about our daily tasks, jobs and errands. The issue is, those who are unaware of that may spend much more time outdoors than they have to. And that will lead to sun skin damage.
How Are We Sure We’re Getting Enough Vitamin D, or Too Much, from Supplements?
These pair of quotes from the cited Melanoma Education Foundation article on the subject will provide a handy reference on recommended amounts for now and in the future. For easy access, simply bookmark this post.
“The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) recommends 400 – 800 iu (international units) daily depending on age, with 400 iu for infants and 800 iu for seniors over 70 and older. Some agencies in other countries recommend higher doses, up to 1000 iu daily.”
“The maximum safe daily dose of Vitamin D3 is currently 2000 iu (FNB). Exceeding that amount is believed to cause adverse health effects.”
So, What Can We Use as a Vitamin D Substitute?
The simplest answer is likely one that has often stared you right in the face. Supplements are available all over; pharmacies, groceries stores, dollar stores and vitamin shops.
Certain common foods are also a useful source. Milk is great. A few examples cited in the same source material from above are “oil-rich seafoods such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, catfish and oysters.” If you don’t like those foods, supplements are the way to go.
It’s important to know that Vitamin D supplements provide us with the same Vitamin D that our bodies themselves produce. Both supplements and sunlight generate the same result; they just arrive at it from different directions. Vitamin D3 supplements are manufactured by extracting DHC (Dehydrocholesterol) from sheepskin, and then exposing it to UVB radiation. The DHC already present in our skin changes to Vitamin D3 after it’s exposed to the sun’s UVB radiation.
With both methods delivering equal results, supplements prove to be the much better choice because they remove the risks of skin damage or cancer that come with sun exposure.
For numerous reasons, the use of a tanning bed is always a horrible idea. However, we’ll mostly focus on those relevant to the topic of this blog post. Tanning beds provide users with little-to-no Vitamin D. What they do provide to their users in abundance, though, are high doses of harmful UVA radiation.
That UVA radiation greatly increases the risks of skin cancer and deadly melanoma, and at the very least will cause some level of sun skin damage. Tanning beds are a dangerous scourge that serve no useful purpose- other than as income generators for their owners at the expense of their customers’ healthy skin. Don’t buy into that industry’s misleading hyperbole. Those beds should be completely and permanently avoided by everyone.
Please remember, the dangers you subject yourself to by trying to get Vitamin D through sunlight outweigh the potential health benefits.
Vitamin D and Sun Exposure
*Additional source articles: Melanoma Education Foundation (Steve Fine), Ods.od.nih.gov (National Institutes of Health)