If you lather on the sunscreen every time the sun touches your skin, you could be putting yourself at risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to a recent study.
Vitamin D is required for many vital functions in the body, and deficiencies have been linked to fatigue, autoimmunity, rickets, osteoporosis, even weight gain.
While health experts recommend the use of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, there are benefits to allowing your skin unprotected time in the sun.
Here’s how much sunlight you should be getting to avoid a vitamin D deficiency.
Sunscreen and Vitamin D Deficiency
New research finds that applying a sunscreen of 15 SPF or higher, stops vitamin D production by 99%.
According to researcher Kim Pfotenhauer, “People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.”
She went on to say, “While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D.”
The study found that maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is as easy as spending five to ten minutes in the midday sun without sunscreen twice per week.
Pfotenhauer said, “You don’t need to go sunbathing at the beach to get the benefits. A simple walk with arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.”
Vitamin D deficiency is also a concern in the winter and autumn months when most people spend their time indoors. For that reason, many people use light lamps or choose to supplement.
Why You Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a vitamin (technically a hormone) that is required for many critical functions.
It has multiple scientifically-proven benefits, including improving bone health, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, increasing both upper and lower body strength, and preventing premature death, to name a few.
Most studies showed that supplementing with vitamin D showed the greatest results. One study even showed that taking a vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of bone fractures by up to 33 percent.
Vitamin D also reduces the risk of osteoporosis because it aids in the absorption of calcium, which is needed to maintain strong bones.
Supplementing with vitamin D may be beneficial for people with type one and type two diabetes as it has been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Another study found that infants who were given a vitamin D supplement were 88 percent less like to develop type 1 diabetes than those given no supplements.
One of the most oft-cited benefits of vitamin D is for cardiovascular health. According to a 2008 study, men with vitamin D levels less than 15 ng/m were twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack.
Other proven benefits of vitamin D supplementation include:
- Reduced chronic pain
- Prevention of the common cold
- Promotion of healthy birth weight and length in newborns
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease and age-related disorders
- Fewer asthma attacks
- Better recovery after surgery
How To Attain Proper Vitamin D Levels
As the evidence shows, vitamin D is one nutrient that you cannot afford to become deficient in.
According to a 2011 study, most people are deficient in vitamin D because they do not spend enough time outdoors (or spend too much time lathered in sunscreen) and they do not get enough in their diet.
Luckily, getting proper vitamin D levels is usually a simple fix. The best place to start is by having blood work done to determine your vitamin D needs.
If your blood work shows you are deficient or low in vitamin D, consider spending more time outside in the sun without wearing sunscreen.
Another great way to increase vitamin D levels is by eating foods that are good sources, which include red meat, oily fish, liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, spinach, and fortified foods.
But even with eating foods that are high in vitamin D, it is difficult to reach the daily recommended levels.
If you are concerned with the possible consequences of the sun, such as skin cancer, wrinkles and sun spots, consider taking Vitamin D3 which offers a safe and effective way to hit your daily vitamin D levels.
You can choose between 1,000 IU or 5,000 IU micro tablets, and these can be dissolved under the tongue rather than swallowed.
By ensuring a healthy vitamin D intake, you can wear all the sunscreen you want outdoors knowing your vitamin D levels are covered.