Vitamin D Best Source
Are We Starving Ourselves Of vitamin D? At least a third of the population in some countries are deficient in vitamin D, and experts say it’s time to get back out in the sun. . . in small doses.
When it comes to sun safety. the message is becoming increasingly lazy. For decades we’ve been urged to protect our skin by slopping on the sunscreen and covering up. Now some health experts believe that we have taken the message too far and may have insufficient levels of vitamin D, the best source of which comes from UV radiation from the sun.
Vitamin For Bone Health
Not only is this chemical hormone vital for bone and muscle health, but new research shows it may also guard against a range of other ailments. including, most surprisingly, skin cancer.
One woman who is learning this the hard way is Monica Adams, a vigilant mother who, thanks to a routine blood test, has discovered she is seriously low in vitamin D.
lt was a huge shock as I didn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with me, says the 45-year-old. I feel healthy, l eat well, I’m pretty ﬁt and vigilant in my skin care regime.
A little too vigilant, it seems. While routinely sun-smart – Adams is rarely spotted sans hat and sunscreen – she wrongly assumed she was getting enough incidental sun. I walk the kids to school. play netball and am at the beach in summer doing Nippers with the kids.
Calcium Vitamin D Supplements
Yet Adams’s levels are so low she needs to take vitamin D supplements for the rest of her life. She is also at risk of osteoporosis and has to bump up her calcium intake.
That’s because vitamin D improves calcium absorption, explains Professor Rebecca Mason, from the University of Sydney’s Bosch lnstitute.
vitamin D not only reduces fractures in old people. it improves muscle function and coordination thereby stopping them from falling over in the first place, explains Professor Mason. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Are you deficient? Some people can’t access enough sun to maintain vitamin D levels and should consult their doctor about supplements. They include:
The elderly and those stuck indoors.
Dark-skinned people — the pigment in their skin reduces UV penetration, making if harder to produce vitamin D.
Those with fair skin.
Those with a history of skin cancer.
Breastfed babies and infants of vitamin D-deﬁcient mothers.
Those on immunosuppressants.
Those who cover up for religious or cultural reasons.
Those with osteoporosis.
Vitamin D Sunlight
Let the sunshine in. Every tissue in the body has the capacity to respond to the vitamin D hormone, says Professor Mason, including, most surprisingly, your skin.
There is some evidence that small exposures to sunlight might actually beef up your skin’s repair mechanisms, protecting cells from the damaging effects of UV radiation.
You know how you tend to get burnt at the beginning of summer and not so much at the end? That’s partly because you get a bit more color in your skin and also because you get a slightly increased outer layer of skin that actually protects you. It’s been estimated that it gives you an SPF of about 15.
Vitamin D Reduce Risk Of Skin Cancer
So has Adams weakened her skin by covering up too much? There is some evidence to suggest that a little exposure may improve your ability to withstand further sun damage, Professor Mason says. We have evidence in animals that if you put vitamin D compounds on skin you can reduce immunosuppression and skin cancer development.
In fact, preliminary research shows that vitamin D may signiﬁcantly reduce your risk of developing all types of cancers.
A four-year study of a women in Nebraska, for instance, found that those given vitamin D and calcium had between 60 and 77 per cent reduced risk of developing a variety of cancers including breast, colon and skin cancer. However, more substantial research is required.
Professor Mason says there are associations between low vitamin D and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cardiac mortality and autoimmune disease.
A Scandinavian study found that children with inadequate D as infants had about a two-and-half-fold increased risk of developing a type 1 diabetes. vitamin D may also protect against rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and depression.
Vitamin D Benefits
So has the slopping on the sunscreen and covering up campaign gone too tar? Not at all, argues Professor Ian Olver, CEO of Cancer Council Australia. We have 1600 deaths from skin cancer a year in Australia, so we can’t pull back on the campaign in the middle of summer, but we’ve got to make it clear that it doesn’t apply to winter, Professor Oliver says. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, when the sun isn’t as intense, that’s probably okay.
Instead, he would prefer us to focus on the daily UV index. If it’s under three. it’s safe to go walking in the sun without protection. We need to get balance right.
A US study found that women who were given vitamin D and calcium had up to a 77 percent reduced risk of developing cancer.
Too Much Vitamin D ?
Balance is the key. Studies show that too much sun exposure will not help your vitamin D levels either, as the body can only make a curtain amount of it at a time. lf you keep exposing your skin to UV, the rays start to break down vitamin D, Professor Mason says – Short, frequent exposure is best.
And while the body can store vitamin D for 30 to 60 days, Professor Mason says you don’t make enough in winter to carry through to summer, so you need regular exposure. Nor should you rely on foods, such as oily ﬁsh, eggs and liver, which only provide up to 10 per cent of our vitamin D needs.
Calcium And Vitamin D Foods
There are some fortiﬁed foods, such as milk and cereals. The calcium in dairy also helps protect your vitamin D from being broken down, but really it’s sun, supplements or both .
If you choose supplements, Opt for brands that contain calcium and speak to your doctor about dosage. There is evidence starting to emerge that exercise might also be important for helping you to maintain vitamin D levels. Professor Mason adds.
For the rest of us, it’s about getting the balance right. and if that means lingering a little longer outdoors, you probably won’t ﬁnd much complaint.
Vitamin D Guidelines – The New Sun Rules
How much sunlight? You need to determine the best regime for your skin type, location and activities.
Check the UV index daily. Only expose your skin if UV radiation levels are below three. During summer, and in the sunnier northern states, this is usually before 10am and after 3pm.
You only need to expose your skin for about 10 minutes a day, depending on the UV index, your skin type and age. In summer you might drop this down to two minutes and up to 20 minutes in winter, preferably at about 12pm.
You can stand in the sun naked in winter for an hour or so at 8am or 4pm and not make much vitamin D at all, Professor Rebecca Mason says. Infants need just a few minutes daily.
You only need to expose 15 percent of your body at a time. The more skin you expose, the less time you need.
Your skin should never begin to burn.