A recent article by the New York Times discovered that the vitamin D pandemic America seems to be facing may have “shadowy money behind it.” The endocrinologist who supported most of the guidelines for supplementation and testing had a financial interest in the industry. Additionally, new scientific studies are showing that Vitamin D may not be the miracle supplement that many are claiming it to be. A recent study of over 50,000 Americans found that Vitamin D supplementation did not improve bone density or reduce fractures or falls. This discovery may be bad for the supplement industry, but where does it leave Americans? According to the NY Times article, vitamin D tests are now the fifth most common tests covered by Medicare, meaning a lot of Americans are worried for their vitamin D levels. The answer isn’t always extensive exposure to the sun. The daily amount of vitamin D needed is easily reached, and we have a few tips for you to follow in order to stay healthy and prevent skin damage.
The Low Down on Vitamin D
Before we even delve into how to maintain your vitamin D levels, we want to explain what exactly vitamin D is. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which acts as an important component in helping your body absorb calcium, leading to healthy bone growth. For this reason, a deficiency of the vitamin can lead to osteoporosis in adults and extreme deficiency causes rickets in children. A deficiency of vitamin D is very serious when it prevents your bones from growing or healing, and for this reason it is important to ensure you get enough. There are easy ways to get vitamin D into your body while also protecting your skin.
Sources of Vitamin D
These are the best sources for acquiring vitamin D:
- Eat a Balanced Diet
The easiest way to have healthy vitamin D levels is by consuming fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as taking fish liver oils which are also a great source of omega 3. Cheese and egg yolk also carry small amounts of vitamin D in them, and in America milk and margarine are fortified with vitamin D.
People who struggle to gain the vitamin from these sources usually have milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or are vegan. In these cases, it may be best to take a supplement to increase your daily amount.
- Go Outside with Protection
Going outside is a great natural way of absorbing some sunlight, which converts compounds in your skin which then become vitamin D. Research shows that sun exposure of only 5-8 minutes is more than enough for you to get the stimulation your skin needs to convert to vitamin D, and more than this has shown to have the adverse effect of breaking down some vitamin D. Most of this exposure can easily be achieved in Florida by simply running errands! This doesn’t mean you should avoid the sun after 8 minutes outside, but instead that you should protect your skin with sunscreen and sun protective clothing if you are going to be outside for longer periods of time.
The idea that people living in cloudy or northern areas being deficient in vitamin D is also a myth. While the U.S. Health Department states that cloud cover and pollution reduce UV penetration by 50%, UV rays still come through and constantly expose you to harmful rays, even when you can’t see the sun.
Protect Your Skin
UV damage is a serious danger leading to skin cancer affecting 1 in 5 Americans. On your quest to get enough vitamin D into your body, there are some methods we suggest, and others we think you should avoid.
Make sunscreen your best friend. Even if you are inside the whole day, most windows do not have UV protection films, and those determined rays will damage your skin. Applying sunscreen as part of your daily routine will make sure your skin doesn’t age so quickly and will protect you from sun damage and cancer-causing UV rays.
- Sunless Tanner
No, we did not say tanning beds! Sunless tanners are lotions that contain the simple carbohydrate compound dihydroxyacetone (DHA), approved by the FDA. These are safer than the carcinogenic rays of a tanning bed. Sunless tanners are an improved way to get that perfect sun-kissed look without going orange or exposing yourself to harmful rays. In 2009 the International Agency added tanning beds to their list of dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. So, if you want a tan, consider ditching the UV rays for some cream.
- Book a Skin Screening
If you are worried that your efforts to get more vitamin D into your system are detrimental to your skin, we recommend booking a skin cancer screening at either our Boynton Beach or Boca Raton clinics. The screening is an excellent way to get a once-over from the dermatologist to check your skin’s health. Attending a screening annually is a great way to check for changes in moles or freckles and gives you a chance to ask about ways to increase your vitamin D levels safely. The most important part of the screening is to prevent anything from progressing into a serious problem, after all, prevention is the best cure.
If you would like more information on how to get more vitamin D into your life, or you would like to book a skin cancer screening, please contact us and we will give you professional and quality care to keep you informed and keep your skin healthy.