There is almost nothing more wonderful than the feeling of the nice, hot sun on a beautiful day! Depending on where you live, you and your family may have waited through a long winter to enjoy the feeling. Playing outside is great for children’s health, and being in the sun is one of life’s greatest pleasures. But, if you do not take steps to protect yourself, it can go wrong very quickly.
A healthy dose of sun exposure is good for the mind and body, but overdoing it is not. Sun exposure is essential for the body’s production of Vitamin D, which is needed for many things – from fighting illness to helping the body absorb calcium. As in any other area of life, balance is the key. For children, this is especially true.
Children often have more sensitive skin than adults, and it’s important that we protect them from too much sun as vigilantly as we do in all areas. When you and your children are planning to spend time in the sun, take these steps to ensure your children will be protected from any potential sun damage.
Topical Sun Protection
Commercial sunscreen is often encouraged to protect our kids. Topical sun protection is absolutely vital, but when you choose a sunscreen, be sure to look for one that is free of harmful chemicals. Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware that our body absorbs much of what we put on our skin. This has led to a wide variety of safer sunscreens for us and our precious children.
A natural and easy “sunscreen” to use is organic, virgin coconut oil. Hawaiians have been using this for years to protect against sun damage. As with any method, this is not “fail proof”; however, it is a great start.
When your children are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, be sure that you bring proper clothing. Long sleeves are a good idea. If it is quite warm outside, wear light colors and lightweight fabric so it does not feel unbearable. Wide brimmed hats are a great way to keep the sun off your children’s faces. Even if they are not worn all day long, every moment counts.
Eating for Protection
This may sound unusual to some, but there is growing evidence that there are nutritional steps you can take towards preventing sun damage. Exposure to the sun produces harmful free radicals. Fortunately, antioxidants will fight them.
Dark green leafy vegetables contain lutein, which can help protect the skin from sun damage. Beta carotene converts to Vitamin A which protects the skin as well, and is found in carrots and many other orange fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is another protective carotenoid which is found in red and pink vegetables and fruit.
Zeaxanthin protects eyes from sun damage by filtering out UV light, and can be found in spinach and broccoli. The absorption rate of all of these is increased when they are taken with a healthy fat such as fish oil or olive oil.
As much as possible, minimize sugar in your children’s diet as it is believed to contribute to the breakdown of collagen in the skin, and can leave skin more vulnerable to the damaging effects of UVA rays.
Sun protection is a necessary part of keeping your child safe. It doesn’t have to be a chore, however. Incorporate as many of the ideas above as you can to ensure that your child will be happily and healthily protected from the sun.