Everything You Need to Know about Sun Protection and Vitamin D
Why do we need vitamin D?Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, which promotes bone strength and health. Low levels of the vitamin lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, and weakened bone structure, which increases the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. In an article published by the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, endocrinologist Michael Holick claims that vitamin D deficiency is also linked to cancer, type 1 diabetes, and overall well-being. Without a doubt, we should all aim to maintain our ideal vitamin D levels, but doing it safely is the key.
How to get vitamin D
Our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The sun’s rays are classified as either ultraviolet A, the less intense rays, or ultraviolet B, the more intense rays. While both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage and skin cancer, only the UVB rays are responsible for vitamin D production. When UVB rays hit skin cells, it sparks a reaction that creates the vitamin. Our bodies are able to produce vitamin D most efficiently at midday, when the sun is at its highest point and the UVB rays shine the strongest. Sitting by a window or in a car won’t have the same effect, as UVB rays cannot penetrate windows. Therefore, the best way to boost your vitamin D levels is to get outside right at noon and absorb the sunshine vitamin as efficiently as possible.
Risks of sun exposureToo much sun exposure can be dangerous because it leads to sunburns, premature aging, eye damage, and skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen is an effective way to protect your skin from damage that leads to aging and skin cancer because it filters out over 90% of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Specifically, applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every 2 to 3 hours spent in the sun is a great way to reduce the risks of sun damage. Check out our 6 Natural Ways to Protect Your Hair This Summer to learn more about preventing sun damage to your hair.
Sunscreen vs. vitamin DEven sunscreens with SPF 50 only filter out 98% of the sun’s UVB rays. No matter how much sunscreen you use, the sun’s rays will still hit your skin, allowing for vitamin D production. In fact, a small amount of sun exposure is all it takes for our bodies to produce enough of the vitamin. On the other hand, it takes just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun to cause skin damage, which is why doctors and dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen daily. The truth is, the risks of sun damage are too great to ditch the sun screen, and we can still get enough vitamin D from protected sun exposure.
While you can find the vitamin in some foods like salmon, tuna, and egg yolks, the easiest way to boost your vitamin D levels is through sun exposure. If you’re planning on spending more than 10 minutes in the sun, remember to apply sunscreen to protect against sunburns that lead to skin cancer. During the winter, it may help to take vitamin D supplements since the sun exposure is less strong. While summer’s still here, take advantage of the sunshine and safely boost your vitamin D.