One more app suggestion 📲
📱 Follow up your nighttime Flux use with daytime dminder.
It's the last few weeks of Winter, and soon it will be Spring again! How did you fare this year? Already, I've been hearing geese honking their return and admiring tiny flowers.
(*for the most important tip and no app required, feel free to skip to the bottom)
Late Winter Weather
This time of year gives some of my favorite weather. I used to call it "hot sun, cold wind," but recently I heard these days called “blue wine days” and I thought that was a much more poetic description. This is the weather where the sky is clear and deeply blue, and breathing makes you feel a bit intoxicated.
Here, the trees haven't gotten their leaves yet, so when the wind blows, it cuts right through. But when the wind is still, the warmth of the sun seems to penetrate to the bone.
I've shared how much it meant to me to learn Vitamin D is not the only benefit to spending time outdoors in the sunshine.
It seems obvious that something that feels so good on so many levels would also be good for us on many levels! However, there are 2 reasons I want to talk about the ever-popular Vitamin D again.
As Spring approaches, more of the North is seeing enough UV to allow for solar-derived Vitamin D (yay!)
I'm on a roll of sharing useful apps, and there is a useful app I use to maximize my sunbathing and protect my skin
An app to use in the evening
So, last week I shared Flux App, which helps you achieve a more natural sunset experience indoors.
Please do this first. Once you have your nightlights pinned down with actual darkness, then download the app dminder. Dminder helps you achieve a more natural daytime. If you remember from my overview posts about circadian rhythmicity, starting with the nighttime is safer for anyone who suffers from depression or other mental health conditions.
An app to use in the daytime
In the past, we humans used to get a lot more daylight than we do now. This isn’t practical for most of us, but we can do better! Even just 15 minutes at a time at the right times of day, without sunglasses or sunscreen, can make a big difference1.
I use the app dminder to track my middle-of-the-day exposure. This is the time of day when sunburn is most likely. It is also the time of day when we can synthesize Vitamin D from the sun. By cross-referencing your location, date, skin-type, and other factors, the app can show:
The next window for solar-derived Vitamin D
How long to stay in the sun without getting burned
Approximately how many IUs of Vitamin D you have generated
What does dminder do?
Here’s how the dminder app works:
But I thought Vitamin D came in a bottle?
It's only recently that the sun and traditional food sources of Vitamin D like fish, organ meats, wild mushrooms have been shunned. To learn more about these traditional foods, check out these papers:
Lehmann, U., Gjessing, H., Hirche, F., et al. (2015). Efficacy of fish intake on vitamin D status: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102, 837–47.
These papers all show that it is indeed possible to significantly increase Vitamin D levels by eating Vitamin D rich foods. However, the solar pathway is considered preferable for anyone who can get outside2.
Chemically identical, functionally unique
Historically, humans have relied on both solar exposure and dietary intake for Vitamin D. They are not actually the same thing! I am somewhat obsessed with the idea of natural Vitamin D because radiated lanolin and lichen don't seem that natural to me! This is why it is so exciting that apps like dminder can help quantify solar-derived Vitamin D.
How much Vitamin D can you get from the sun?
In this early part of the year, it is only possible to generate a couple thousand IU per day using the sun. Later in the year, it is possible to generate many thousands of IU per day. Using Dminder is like bowling with bumpers. The timers and alarms can warn you when sunburn is immanent.
When I began doing this kind of deliberate sunbathing, one aspect was a little tricky. The skin turns pink when it starts generating Vitamin D. But, when it starts to sunburn, it also turns color! Learning the difference between the ooey-gooey infrared feeling, the mega-zinging Vitamin D feeling, and the icky-prickly impending sunburn feeling was an important part of my journey.
How should you prepare for sunbathing?
The time it takes to go through each of these phases of skin activity is different every time. It's cool to know that you can condition yourself to be able to handle the midday sun better.
How does solar pre- and post- conditioning work?
Pre- and post- conditioning works like this:
In the very early morning, get outside while the sun is still nice and low on the horizon. Wear as few clothes as you can, comfortably, and no glasses. Stay out for at least 15 minutes. This gives up to of SPF 15, naturally, for free, and with no strange lab-generated chemicals3.
Use dminder to track your midday solar exposure, and get as much as you can without burning.
In the late afternoon, when the sun is low enough to be turning that richer red color of evening, get back outside. Again, wear as few clothes as you can, comfortably, and no glasses. Stay out again for at least 15 minutes. This light is especially healing to the skin. If you did get any skin damage earlier in the day, this evening sunbathing will heal it faster.
Does solar pre- and post- conditioning actually work?
I love this little quote:
One could therefore assume that early morning “sun salutation” (surya namaskar) and late afternoon procrastination on the beach are actually natural photobiomodulation treatments to prevent and repair, respectively.
This practice also entrains your circadian rhythm! But even if we are only looking at skin health, doing the pre- and post- sunbathing is a great practice.
*What if I don’t want to use the app?
If you don't want to use the dminder app, there is a handy rule of thumb you can use instead. If your shadow is taller than you are, you are outside of the UV peak and getting the healing effects of infrared. However, you are NOT synthesizing Vitamin D. When your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun is overhead and your skin can synthesize Vitamin D. Use the chart above to estimate how long to stay outside. Pay attention to how you feel and seek shade when you feel the need for it.
Final thoughts about sunbathing
Three final tips:
Coolness boosts the effects of infrared light, so be brave and get out there even if it is a little chilly! Your fine lines and wrinkles will thank you for the extra collagen and ATP.
After you skin turns pink from Vitamin D, don't shower! At this point, the Vitamin D is an oily substance on your skin and it takes time for it to travel through your body where it needs to go. If you were to wash it off now, you would miss out on the benefits.
DON’T use sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks your ability to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun.
That’s all for today but you can always check out the past posts in the archive!