Sunscreen Savvy

July 19, 2016
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Why nutrition equals safe sun.

It’s amazing. Before the 1930s skin cancer was a non-entity unlike today where melanoma is up nearly 2000%. Yet, back in the day approximately 75% of the workforce held jobs that kept them outside during the day, while today that number is only around 10%.

Why? Because before “safe sun” lotions and potions, nature was the skin’s miracle worker.

For some time, we’ve learned to avoid the sun and/or lather up with the highest SPF we can find—but is that good advice?

The Sunshine Vitamin

At least 75 percent of our body’s vitamin D supply is made when a type of cholesterol in the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. When you hide from the sun, you’re much more likely to become deficient in vitamin D, appropriately known as “the sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization—a deficiency that causes rickets (bowing of the legs and stunted growth) in children, and osteomalacia (a condition known as “soft bones”) in adults.

Optimal sunlight exposure depends on many factors, including an individual’s genetic heritage. Darker skinned people require more sunlight exposure than those with lighter skin to synthesize the same amount of vitamin D. This fact alone demonstrates why a “one-size-fits-all” sun exposure prescription just will not work for everyone.

Being out in the sun for at least 30 minutes while wearing sunscreen will not prevent vitamin D deficiency. Since sunscreen absorbs the ultraviolet rays that are needed for our bodies to synthesize vitamin D, constant sunscreen use has been found to decrease vitamin D levels in the blood.

Sunscreen Security

On the other hand, people tend to stay out in the sun for much longer periods of time while wearing sunscreen than they otherwise would, believing they’re fully protected from the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens absorb UVE radiation, but not all prevent UVA light—which penetrates the farthest into the skin and is involved in the formation of melanoma. UVA light suppresses the immune system, specifically causing a loss of Langerhan’s cells, which are designed to keep the skin healthy and protect it from free-radical damage, bacteria, and other pathogens.

So, while sunscreens do prevent burning and protect against the formation of actinic keratosis—believed to be a precursor of one type of skin cancer—they haven’t been proven to protect against melanoma or basal cell carcinoma—the most prominent forms.

Nutritionally Sun Safe

To stay safe in the sun without spreading toxic chemicals over your skin, protect yourself—and your loved ones—from the inside out.

For real sunscreen savvy, use a daily scoop of UNI KEY’s Daily Greens in your morning smoothie. This product is loaded with sun smart nutrition—especially organic barley grass—which has the ability to repair DNA at twice the normal speed to protect your skin from sun “burn.”

The bio-available form of folate used in Daily Greens is instantly absorbed immediately providing thousands of living enzymes at the cellular level for repair and restoration.

In addition, it contains every single one of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need on a daily basis including a vegan source of B12 with five times the amount of iron as spinach and ten times more calcium than a glass of milk.

Daily Greens is comprised of 10 other organic non-GMO all-star greens that are energy boosting, detoxifying, and immune-building.

More Healthy Habits

Of course, it’s also critical that you carefully monitor the amount of time that you spend in the sun. Hats, sunglasses and light scarves are wise when dining out on a beautiful patio or taking a leisurely summer walk.

If you must be out in the sun for long periods of time, the only really “safe” sunscreen available is the zinc cream that is sold in pharmacies and is used as a topical application for skin irritations, dermatitis, redness, and baby’s bottoms. This sunscreen will remind you of the old-fashioned zinc oxide sunblocks back in the day before nano-particles made the zinc oxide invisible to the naked eye but delivered it deeper into the skin’s structure. The use, however, of this physical sunscreen will prevent the body’s production of Vitamin D.

Now, all that’s left to do is safely soak up the summer rays.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Coco

    Very good information. I would also like to know if there is any truth to the following:
    1) Office florescent lights can contribute to skin cancer. If so, what about all the newer types of light bulbs?
    2) Consuming coconut oil can help the system with sun protection.
    3) Topical Emu oil used as a moisturizer can help with sun protection.
    4) Please comment on all the drugs people consume… especially with the labels that say to be careful in the sun. Is drug use impacting skin cancer?
    5) Please spread the word on the efforts of the Environmental Working Group on testing sun screen ingredients.

    • Ann Louise Gittleman

      Thank you for such insightful comments, Coco and I will do my best to answer.

      1) I am not aware of office fluorescent lights contributing to skin cancer, but I do know that there is some concern with regard to mercury contamination, especially with compact fluorescent lights. I personally use full spectrum only and have stocked up on the good old fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

      2) Consuming coconut oil may help with sun protection.

      3) Emu oil topically is very nourishing.

      4) I imagine that the epidemic use of prescription drugs may very well be impacting skin cancer, although I can’t quantify how much. I do know that many antibiotics trigger tremendous skin sensitivity, as well as topical Retin A.

      5) I totally respect the efforts of the Environmental Working Group and their yearly testing of sunscreens.

  2. Laurie

    Wow. You are so off base here. Skin cancer rates have grown for numerous reasons. Food intake might have a small part, but others are much more directly related.
    1. Population growth in the desert southwest. In the 1930’s, the bulk of the US population was on the eastern seaboard. The population of Arizona and Texas have grown disproportionately. And these states with high temperatures and ever growing population, equals more skin cancer.
    2. Temperature change – simply it is hotter everywhere.
    3. Vanity – In the 1930’s, fair skin was considered beautiful. In the 1970’s, everyone wanted the “St. Tropez tan.” People now like the look of tan skin and are willing to risk skin cancer to get it.

    • Liz

      Laurie, I think you misinterpreted the purpose of the blog. You have provided some interesting information about the causes for the change in the cancer rate. What I learned from the blog was how to deal with the hazard of over exposure to the sun in a more natural healthy way.

    • Team ALG

      Hi Laurie: Thanks for providing some missing elements to the blog, for sure. We agree with you wholeheartedly about the tanning craze – at any cost for some. That being said, regardless of “healthy sun habits” being preached for decades, skin cancer is still on the rise. And — the majority of those working in the desert southwest — work inside during the most critical sun hours. So, that leaves us with the toxicity factor of sunscreens and diet deficits.

      Sunscreens have been found to contain up to four carcinogens – especially oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. The first is a hormone disruptor and the second can spread skin cancer lesions.

      The diet connection is paramount to ALG because she is a nutritionist. She is concerned with the growing numbers of individuals with genetic variations which impact folate aborption-especially in light of the myriad of foods which contain bio-unavailable and potentially damaging folic acid which, unlike folate, cannot repair broken DNA and help prevent cancer.

      So, we hope you better understand why ALG chose to feature the elements she did. We apologize for missing the boat on the St. Tropez tanning epidemic and tanning booths as well.

  3. jessa

    I would like to know if natural self tanners are unhealthy?

  4. sue fitzpatrick

    ALG Team- I love your Daily Greens but I have a question. If you are post menopausal do you need to be concerned about the amount of iron in the Daily Greens? Thank you!

    • Team ALG

      Sue, you don’t need to be concerned about the iron in the Daily Greens. You just don’t want to take an additional iron supplement in your multi-vitamin.



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