Is Avoiding the Sun Worse than Smoking?Over the past 40 years, dermatologists have promoted the idea that you should never be exposed to direct sunlight because it will damage your skin and cause skin cancer. You might wonder, well what about vitamin D? No problem, as according to the American Academy of Dermatology, vitamin D deficiency can easily be addressed with vitamin D supplements. What they fail to acknowledge and appreciate is that when you’re exposed to sunlight, many important biological processes occur in your skin, not just vitamin D production. This is separate from swallowing oral vitamin D, which is an important but, according to many experts, clearly inferior alternative. While it will improve your vitamin D status, you forgo the many benefits sunlight offers aside from vitamin D production. Unfortunately, the entire focus of most dermatologists is preventing skin damage, which means ignoring the other side—the benefits—of the sun exposure equation. This includes heightened protection against a number of internal cancers and other chronic diseases, including heart disease, which kills far more people than melanoma does. Ironically, recent research shows that vitamin D also improves survival outcomes for melanoma patients. It’s also important for cognitive health, immune function, healthy pregnancy and infant development, and strong, healthy bones, just to name a few.