Natural Sunscreen for Children

Many mothers, myself included, are concerned about the potentially unhealthy ingredients of sunscreens, even if they are supposed to be “safe” for children. If you want to minimize the need of covering your child with these substances, sunscreens, there are certain foods that can be eaten to augment a natural sunscreen within one’s own skin, a natural protection to some degree instead of relying solely on sunscreens.

Our main source of vitamin D comes from the sun, through ultraviolet rays in sunlight, and is converted to vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is present in some foods, such as fatty fish and in fortified milk, among a few others, but mainly through the sun… in moderation.. It is also extremely important that children get enough vitamin D for bone growth, learning and memory, and motor control among other things; you want them to enjoy the sun but without that extra worry of getting a sunburn.

Natural sources of protection:

  • Vitamin E
  • Well known carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene 
  • Omega-3 not only raises the natural UV protection against sunburns but it also helps protect skin against inflammation if one does get too much sun. So it’s a natural sunscreen and after-sun-healer. 

The following is a great list of healthy foods to add to your child’s diet to boost their skin’s natural sunscreen and help protect against sunburns.

  • Tomatoes
  • Guavas
  • Watermelon
  • Persimmon
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potatoes & Carrots
  • Red cabbage
  • Kale, mustard greens, spinach, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans
  • Squash such as butternut, winter and summer squashes (excellent for those younger babies 6+months)
  • Mangos (also excellent for babies 6+months)
  • Dried Herbs such as Basil, Parsley, Sage, Cilantro, Thyme, Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Some berries such as strawberries and raspberries
  • Kidney beans
  • Wheat germ

Some of the listed foods are also high in vitamin D and Iron. Both are extremely important for kids to consume within their diet. More info in future blog posts…

Again, getting vitamin D through the sun is important and while sun lotion and clothes are the ultimate sun protectors, building a natural sunscreen by adding specific foods to your diet will also protect your skin. 

My Personal Experience: We love the sun and I feel that it is important for my son to get his vitamin D through sun exposure. Well, that is not a problem, living in TX, especially with the heat like it has been this summer, 100-107F daily, for the past 2 months, pushing us outdoors to the coolness of a pool. The problem we face is not getting burned whether it is within 10 minutes or after 4 hours. I rarely put sunscreen on my child. Along with a good diet rich in the above foods, he wears a hat, long sleeve shirt and swim trunks while out and around the pool. Even after a day where we were recently outside, in the sun, for 6 hours, he had no sunburns or redness at all to his skin. 

Again, I believe his diet is helping to boost his natural sunscreen: Every day he eats at least 5-7 of the 15 natural sunblockers listed above.

Has anyone else felt like they have had success with eating certain foods as a natural sun blocker?

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