Let’s take a look at the controversy about getting enough Vitamin D (especially this winter) while still wearing sunscreen every day. None of us want to get a case of #SAD, so use these tips to help boost your daily intake.
First consider why vitamin D is so important:
- It’s primary purpose is to assist parathormone and other metabolic agents in regulating and maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
- Calcium requires vitamin D for efficient transport from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
- Recent research suggests that vitamin D is important in the prevention of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, and some immune-system diseases. It has now replaced Vitamin C and E as being the “wonder” vitamin, if there is one.
There are two forms of vitamin D that are important in humans:
- Vitamin D2 : Ergocalciferol contained in plants
- Vitamin D3 : Cholecalciferol, manufactured in the skin from exposure to UV radiation and present in certain foods.
Recent studies find many individuals in Canada to be deficient in vitamin D. They wear sunscreen for protection in the summer and spend the long winter months wrapped from head to toe in warm clothing. This limits the production of vitamin D from the lower UV exposure. Some recommend to spend a limited time of 10 minutes in the sun without a sunscreen from time to time. At CyberDERM and Laserderm (our sister medical clinic) we advocate stringent sunscreen protection all year round. The risk of UV exposure far outweigh any benefits from maintaining vitamin D production by the skin:
- Most cases of skin cancer are potentially preventable, yet across the USA non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) has tripled from 1 million cases in 1987 to 3.5 million in 2009.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that melanoma rates have been increasing by 3.1% per year since 1986, despite the use of sunscreens, since most sunscreens may not protect against the longer UVA rays.
- 3% of Canadians will develop some form of skin cancer this year.
- In North America over $6 billion is spent removing actinic and cancerous lesions.
- UV radiation from sun exposure causes skin cancer, and photoaging and pre-mature aging.
How much vitamin D do you really need?
We prefer that you get your Vitamin D from diet and supplements. The RDA may not be high enough for most Canadians. Most experts agree that children and adults who stay out of the sun require 1000-2000 IU daily, but you can safely take 2-4 thousand IU per day, particularly in the winter months.
What you may not know about vitamin D:
|Got to love Vitamin D while still protecting yourself from the Sun|
- Vitamin D in the body has to be processed by the liver and the kidneys into a usable form. Whether the source is dietary or from sun exposure, once vitamin D is processed, the metabolic effect is the same. That is why dietary vitamin D works. Your body does not know whether the vitamin D being used came from sun exposure and the skin or from your diet.
- You can get vitamin D from a variety of sources. Foods such as salmon, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks naturally contain vitamin D. Some foods like milk, orange juice, yogurts, and cheeses are fortified to increase their vitamin D and calcium content. Finally, there are prescription and over-the-counter vitamin D supplements that come in capsules and liquids.
Get your Vitamin D from diet and select your sunscreen wisely:
As mentioned in previous blogs, using a truly broad spectrum for sunscreen is essential. Avoid the high SPF trap where most believe that the higher – the better. For adequate sunburn protection measured by the SPF number, most need a minimum of SPF 25-30. Ensure you get truly broad-spectrum protection from even long wave UVA, most high SPF sunscreens will not protect you adequately. Current research and the findings of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirm that zinc and titanium-based formulations are among the safest, most effective sunscreens on the market. Zinc gives complete UVA and UVB, while titanium affords complete UVB and partial UVA protection. Clear zinc products, such as CyberDERM’s Every Morning Sun Whip, provides the complete protection in an aesthetic invisible film.