It's hard to know what to do about sun protection when you are constantly reminded about the importance of vitamin D. You can have both, without skin damage or nutritional deficiency.
Vitamin D is essential to our well-being. The body manufactures vitamin D when the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with cholesterol found in the skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol, which then converts it into vitamin D3, which is the active form of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is important to maintain strong bones by regulating calcium levels, keep muscles healthy and gives an important boost to the immune system.
Over the years, there has been a lot of discussions and debates as to how much sunlight is required for the adequate production of vitamin D. What many individuals don't realise is that your body stops producing vitamin D after only a few minutes of exposure to the sun and that as little as 5-10 minutes (depending on the UV index) of exposure to the face, arms or back twice a week is sufficient for the body to manufacture adequate vitamin D.
Sunscreen will not put you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. According to the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc., there is considerable research conducted on this topic. If individuals believe that the best way to obtain sufficient vitamin D is through unprotected sun exposure, this is both misleading and dangerous.
According to Associate Professor Foley of the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc., prolonged sun exposure doesn't cause vitamin D levels to continue to increase but it does increase the risk of skin cancer.
"Around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime and around 2,000 Australians die each year as a result, so protection against UV exposure remains vital, even for those with vitamin D deficiency", he said.
If you don't get vitamin D from UV exposure, then how can obtain enough?
Supplements and diet can provide you with all the vitamin D your body requires.
- Oily fish such as salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel
- Meat, particularly liver
- Fortified milk and orange juice
- Vitamin D supplements.
In conclusion, according to medical experts, the suggestion that the best way to obtain vitamin D is through sun exposure is misleading and dangerous.
During the summer months, most individuals will receive adequate vitamin D levels just from doing day to day activities and by receiving incidental sun exposure.
Vitamin D is essential to strong bones and overall health but only a very small amount of UVB exposure is required. Exposure to UV rays is the primary cause of skin cancer and melanoma. To avoid exposure to UV rays, vitamin D can be obtained through a healthy lifestyle and diet. Supplements are also a good source of vitamin D for those who are likely to be deficient.
Solbari encourages everyone to incorporate daily sun protection into their lifestyle. We believe it is possible to live an active, outdoors orientated lifestyle without compromising your skin health. The most effective skin cancer preventative measure you can take is by wearing UPF 50+ sun protective clothing, sun hats and sun protective accessories.