The summer solstice is coming up…and while most of us have been trained to slather on the sunscreen, we don’t want to completely block out the skin’s natural production of vitamin D from the sun. As with everything, moderation is key. UC San Diego researcher Cedric Garland explains.

Sunscreens completely eliminate the synthesis of vitamin D more effectively than they reduce the risk of cancer or any other outcome. The wisest thing to do would be when a person is out in the sun, to skip the sunscreen for the first 10 or 15 minutes — just keep it in the pocket, allow the sun to create vitamin D in the skin, then put on a hat and if desired, wear a sunscreen — although choose it very carefully to make sure it’s a safe sunscreen.

Exposure to sunlight has been found to lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart attack and stroke and Garland has linked vitamin D produced by sunlight to a significant reduction in colon and breast cancers. Garland says one does not need to exceed 15 minutes in the sun because our skin synthesizes all that it needs in that amount of time.