Vitamin D deficiency, believed to be linked to a wide range of health problems, is becoming increasingly common. While vitamin D can be found in some foods, such as salmon and vitamin-fortified milk and orange juice, the most readily available source of the nutrient is through exposure to the sun. Researchers now theorize that in seeking to avoid skin damage that can lead to cancer, many people no longer get the sunlight their bodies need to produce adequate levels of vitamin D.
Once thought primarily to affect bone health, insufficient vitamin D has begun to be associated with a growing list of problems, including heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and several types of cancer.
Because too much sun can lead to skin cancer, the challenge is how best to balance the pros and cons. Experts say that the balance largely depends on an individual’s level of risk. If you’ve had skin cancer, take a vitamin D supplement and don’t go out in the sun without sun protection, including sunscreen, protective clothing and sunglasses at all times. Staying in the shade and avoiding the peak hours of sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm, especially in the summertime, is advisable for anyone who wants to protect against the worst of the sun’s rays.
Most fair-complexioned individuals get enough vitamin D production through 10 minutes of incidental sunlight. That exposure does not need to be focused on the face, where skin cancer is more prone to appear.
Recent research has shown that individuals, who are at highest risk for skin cancer, are more likely to lack vitamin D if they wear long sleeves and stay in the shade. The researchers also found that people using sunscreen are still getting enough sun exposure to produce vitamin D. They theorize—and this is backed up by independent studies—that most people don’t use enough sunscreen or reapply it often enough to significantly affect vitamin D levels.
How do I get more Vitamin – D?
There are two ways to get more vitamin D: by exposing your bare skin to the sun or by taking vitamin D supplements. The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight. This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day and the color of your skin. The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced.
You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it.
Exposing your skin to the sun for too long, so that your skin starts to burn can be dangerous. This is because it can increase your risk of developing skin cancers. Research to date shows that moderate but frequent sun exposure is healthy but overexposure and intense exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer.
After you have exposed your skin for half the time it takes for you to turn pink, cover up with clothing and go into the shade. Sunscreen can be used at the time of exposure along with shade and clothing to protect your skin. A broad –spectrum sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30-50 should be used.