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Warning: Using Too Much Sunscreen May Lead to Vitamin D Deficiency

Posted Aug 15 2013 7:45am

By Patricia Worby

In part 1 and part 2 of this series I looked at the miraculous benefits of Vitamin D and why widespread deficiency has reached near epidemic levels. Here I am looking at who has the highest risk and what everyone can do to ensure they get enough of the vital nutrient.

    Aging (less vitamin D is produced in the skin as you age) Skin color (darker skinned individuals are more at risk as they need more sunlight to raise levels in the skin) Use of sunscreens dramatically increases your risk; it would be beneficial to go without sunscreen for about ten minutes of exposure so that vitamin D (actually a hormone) can begin production in the skin. Many studies are now showing that the chemical content in commercially-produced sunscreens actually contribute to the formation of cancerous cells in the skin. Latitude where you live (people living at higher latitudes make much less vitamin D because the wavelength of sunlight is insufficient)

Considering that we evolved over millions of years to be outdoors, it’s not surprising that we need not only sunlight, but regular exposure to UV light as well. So inherently, it is strange that sunlight is now given such bad press. It is only recently in our evolution that we have stopped working on the land; unlike our predecessors, many of us are under cover for most of the day, except perhaps for our lunch hour, when, at the first sign of summer sun, we rush out to catch the strongest of the sun’s rays. Some of us then subject our skin to two weeks of sunbathing in warmer climates for our holidays, and this falls on the side of over-exposure.

The present-day fear of the sun is due to a rise in incidence of skin cancers, especially melanoma. However, the relationship between exposure to sunlight and skin cancer is not a simple one.

Melanomas (typically the name given to cancers of the skin) occur most often on the stomach and torso in men, and on the legs in women, areas of skin not as frequently exposed to the sun as the face and hands. Also since we now know Vitamin D is a powerful anti-cancer molecule it is not only necessary, in fact it can be dangerous, to completely avoid sun exposure.

Recent recommendations have suggested at least 1000 IU of vitamin D/day is required to bring vitamin D concentrations up to 75 nmol/l . This is the same as 20 – 60 minutes of sun exposure depending on skin color, latitude and the time of year.

Boost your vitamin D levels with these tips:

    Eat more oily fish and natural oils which contain Vitamin D. Supplement up to 4000 IUs per day in winter in northern climates. Food sources like organic butter are useful but better still if you can’t get enough natural sunlight is to supplement Vitamin D3 (particularly in winter when for those in northern climates you can’t make any in the skin). Dark-skinned individuals need even more than fair-skinned. Get tested before and after by your family doctor if you’re unsure of your levels – you want to get levels up to 75nmol/l. Expose your skin to UV light during the cooler hours of the day with use of sunscreen only after 20 – 60 mins. Regular, safe exposure is good for you. Also, try to avoid commercial sunscreens as they are full of cancer-causing chemicals. Use food-grade sesame oil instead as a natural UVB filter which blocks approximately 30% of UV rays and nourishes your skin at the same time. The Vitamin D Solution, a book by Michael Holick, is a goldmine of information. Important Note about sun exposure: Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from sunlight; from UVB radiation of a specific frequency range which varies with latitude and time of year. Hence for many people it is not synthesized at all in the winter months (in northern climates particularly) and deficiency results. This is an example of why supplementation may be the only way to get enough vitamin D.
Proper remineralization of the body includes getting enough of certain critical nutrients, including Vitamin D. Learn more about natural ways to boost this and other vital minerals in our Remineralize Your Body course.

I am a holistic therapist based in Southampton, UK, using the principles of naturopathic medicine to treat chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue/ME, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, insomnia and chronic pain. I am a passionate believer in treating the cause of disease not just the symptoms; usually a combination of nutritional deficiency, toxicity and unresolved emotional trauma. I offer a package of treatment which includes nutritional medicine, hypnotherapy, massage and EFT to transform your life. Contact me: +442380321766, Skype: patricia.worby


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