Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

This may be old news for some of you, but it's still worth noting while summer is going full blast with the sun and all. Try having summer without it. The sun, that is.

Most of us know that in order for the body to absorb calcium, we need adequate amounts of Vitamin D. This vitamin is important in other ways too, as it boosts your immunities. While we can get Vitamin D from foods such as salmon, fortified milk and breakfast cereals, the best source is the sun. That's why it's called "the sunshine vitamin."

So what's the problem, you ask? We're cautioned not to spend too much time in the sun, and while we're out there, we're to wear sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer. And therein lies the rub. Sunscreen blocks the UV rays that are the source of Vitamin D.

Now we're told that there is somewhat of an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency, apparently due to our being so vigilant about either staying out of the sun or blocking the Vitamin D benefit by wearing sunscreen when we are. So what's a person to do?

Of course, the cancer vigilantes say to err on the side of caution regarding sun exposure. Honestly, which would you rather have - rickets or cancer? How about if we just use some common sense and moderation with it all. Either limit your time in the sun to avoid burning or if you have to spend an extended time under those vitamin-rich rays, break out the sunscreen. It doesn't take too much time of direct sun exposure for the skin to absorb the Vitamin D. Just a few times a week, 15-20 minutes at a time is about all it takes.

"But what about winter?" you ask. The cool thing is that what you get during the summer pretty much carries you through until the next spring, when sunny days are back again.

Want to read more about this sunscreen/Vitamin D dilemma? Try these links:

USA Today:
Vitamin D research may have doctors prescribing sunshine
NBC: Sunscreens can block vitamin D
NetWellness.Org: Sunscreen Interferes With Vitamin D


Jane O' said...

Very interesting. It's something I've wondered about. Moderation is always the key.

Shady Gardener said...

I've been told that 15 minutes per day without sunblock is a good idea. :-)

Karen said...

I think you're right! It seems everything we do in life should be in moderation.

Nancy J. Bond said...

Excellent point. :) Moderation is always the key when thinking of time in the sun. I shudder when I think of the *intentional* sunburns I had as a teenager. I take a Vit D supplement upon my doc's suggestion.

Anonymous said...

I garden so much outside that I am sure it's an overdose. I also lived in the sun as a kid. I hope I never have to face skin cancer but some in my family sure have.

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