Skin is the body’s biggest organ, and it protects us from the outside world, provides immune defense, produces vitamins, regulates temperature, and provides our sense of touch. It protects you from sickness and damage to your bones and internal organs.
As tough as this human exterior is, it requires more attention and protection than any other organ. It is our first line of defense and it’s vulnerable to thousands of diseases.
In honor of summer sun safety month in August, this article provides the three best ways to protect your skin.
Reducing Your Risks
While harsh winter weather damages skin, the biggest threat to this organ is UV rays from the sun. UV rays damage genes inside your skin and that damage can lead to cancer. Everyone is susceptible to skin cancer, but some of us are at higher risk. Your risk is higher if:
- You smoke
- You’re male
- You have light skin
- You’ve had radiation
- You’re exposed to certain chemicals
- There’s a family history of skin cancer
- You have a weakened immune system
- You live, work, or vacation at high altitudes
- You’re older and your skin has been exposed to more UV rays
1. Knowing your skin intimately is the best way to protect yourself because early detection of skin cancer essential. When you are familiar with every freckle, bump, and skin feature, you will quickly notice changes. This article teaches us how to examine our skin and notice changes worth concern. If you notice a suspicious change, please talk to your health care provider immediately!
2. Blocking UV rays is crucial to keeping skin healthy. You can stay in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., covering your skin with clothing, wearing a large-brimmed hat, wearing sunglasses, and using sunscreen correctly (using enough and re-applying) are key. It’s also advised that we avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.
3. Taking the right vitamins also helps protect your skin and keep it healthy. While your skin makes vitamin D, it’s important to consume vitamin D-rich or fortified foods or take supplements, especially if you are over 70 years old, pregnant, have a darker skin tone, or live in an area where sunlight is limited in the winter. Read this article from Harvard’s School of Public Health to learn more about food sources of vitamin D, signs of deficiencies and toxicity, and the difference between D2 and D3 supplements.
Vitamins for Optimal Skin Health
Vitamins C, E and K are also important for optimal skin health. Vitamin C is a cancer-fighting antioxidant and helps you produce collagen. It can also enhance sunscreen’s effectiveness and helps prevent and repair dry skin.
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that protects your skin from sun damage and helps prevent dark spots and wrinkles. Eating more foods with vitamin E, such as certain nuts and seeds, and using topical products with vitamins C and E can help boost your vitamin E intake.
Vitamin K helps your skin heal from bruises, wounds, and skin damaged by surgery. Green leafy vegetables like collard and turnip greens and natto, fermented soybeans, are the best sources of Vitamin K. These foods also supply the nutrient in smaller amounts.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, has two chemical forms – nicotinic acid and nicotinamide (nicotinamide) – that support skin health, healthy aging, and overall body health. While they don’t protect your skin from UV rays, they’re vital for cell regeneration, which keeps your body young. Niacinamide is preferred for skin health, healthy cell division, and other healthy aging benefits.
As you see, taking care of your skin is vital to your overall health. Skin care also helps you look youthful longer and minimize skin disorders. If you have concerns about your skin’s health, vitamin levels, or family history of skin cancer, please talk to your health care provider.
Enjoy the summer sun safely and be well!