All posts by Oishika Das

Does higher SPF Sunscreen Provide Greater Sun Protection?

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Oishika Das

With beach season at its peak, wearing sunscreen can protect your skin from harm related to UV radiation. Sunscreens come in various strengths from Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 5 to SPFs over 100. But do sunscreens with higher SPFs actually provide more protection from the sun? 

There are two types of UV radiation produced by the sun: UVA and UVB. UVB causes sunburns and skin cancer while its counterpart UVA infiltrates into deeper skin and induces changes in the skin associated with aging such as increased wrinkles, age spots, and pigmentation. Broad-spectrum blocking sunscreen provides protection against both forms of UV radiation but the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of a sunscreen refers to how well a sunscreen can protect your skin from UVB. SPF can be thought of as a factor of how much longer it will take your skin to burn than without sunscreen. For example, applying SPF-15 sunscreen means that your skin will take 15 times longer to burn than if you were not wearing sunscreen. 

However, as SPF increases, the benefit decreases, ultimately plateauing at SPFs higher than 50. SPF-15 sunscreen stops approximately 93% of radiation from getting into your skin, SPF-30 stops 97%, and SPF-50 can protect you from 98%. No sunscreen can stop 100% of UV radiation so there isn’t a big difference between using SPF-50 and SPF-100 sunscreen. 

In fact, there can even be diminishing returns from using sunscreen with high SPFs. Higher SPF products usually contain higher concentrations of chemicals that may be associated with potential side effects, such as hormonal imbalance, since there is some level of skin penetration. In fact, the FDA has stated that high SPF sunscreens are misleading, providing a false sense of security without data showing any greater advantage of high SPFs. 

Medical professionals recommend sticking to sunscreen from SPF-15 to SPF-50 while having fun at the beach. Regardless of the SPF you choose, make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours to stay safe and healthy in the Sun!

Electrolytes and Vitamins in Your Post-Workout Drink: Healthy or Not? 

Do You Really Need to Drink Sports Drinks? | SELF

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Oishika Das

After a tiring workout, it may feel refreshing to drink water alternatives such as electrolyte-filled sports drinks or vitamin-infused water. Vitamin drink companies claim that they offer healthier alternatives to energy drinks and tastier substitutes for water, but what are the actual potential health benefits?  

One bottle of generic vitamin water contains around 32.5 grams of sugar, which is much greater than the recommended daily sugar intake of 24 grams. In fact, it has a sugar content similar to sugary soda (39 grams per can), which is empty calories and associated with negative health outcomes. 

Vitamin-infused water is marketed as providing the consumer with various essential vitamins organic compounds that are necessary for health. However, the beverage mostly provides vitamins B and C, which are rarely lacking in an average diet. There is also no benefit of taking an excess amount of these vitamins, because the body excretes the surplus in your urine. Drinks like vitamin-infused water contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals that some populations may be lacking, such as folate and vitamin A (at 25% of the recommended daily intake). However, the drawbacks of the extra sugar outweighs the potential benefits of these few vitamins. 

On the other hand, many sports drinks are filled with electrolytes like sodium and potassium that help maintain the balance of fluids in the body. Exercising and sweating causes you to lose a significant amount of these electrolytes, leading to dehydration and suboptimal performance. Due to this, sports drinks can be beneficial in replenishing electrolytes and quickly rehydrating the body for individuals who engage in intense exercise or work out for longer than 75 minutes. 

Vitamin deficiencies vary from person-to-person. Drinks like vitamin-infused water are packed with random vitamins that don’t account for an individual body’s health needs. Given this, you are much better off sticking to water after a workout and taking vitamin supplements for your specific needs. However, if you feel dehydrated after an intense workout, electrolyte-supplemented sports drinks might be the way to go!

Mask Wearing for Children

Yes, kids can get COVID-19 – 3 pediatricians explain what's known about coronavirus and children

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Oishika Das

All fifty states have imposed mandatory mask requirements in response to the pandemic. However, there has been a lot of variability among states in mask policy for children. In Texas, children under the age of ten are excused from mandatory mask use, while in Massachusetts only babies under the age of two are exempt. So at what age should children start wearing masks, and how beneficial is it for them anyway? 

According to the CDC, children over the age of two should wear a mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, babies younger than two years of age should refrain from wearing masks due to a potential suffocation risk. Instead, it is recommended that parents protect their babies by wearing masks themselves and ensuring safe social distancing when in public. 

John Hopkins reports that COVID-19 has less serious health outcomes in children than in adults, but recent studies show that kids are still capable of spreading the disease to more vulnerable populations. Therefore, it is important that parents ensure their children are wearing masks when around anyone they don’t live with. 

Mask wearing might be new and potentially scary for some children, so parents can take the following steps to make their kids more comfortable with the concept: 

  • Draw a mask on their favorite cartoon characters, or put a mask on their stuffed animals.
  • Allow them to choose a colorful, patterned mask, or have them decorate their own to make wearing a mask fun.
  • Teach them how to properly put on and take off a mask, and allow them to practice until they feel confident.
  • Explain the importance of mask use before asking them to put on their mask.

Wearing masks is equally important in children as in adults and has become the new normal during the pandemic. With proper guidance and communication from parents, mask wearing for kids can become a lot less scary and maybe even fun!