It’s that time of year… The sun is shining and we should be soaking up the sun and all the vitamin D it is showering us with. Wondering why you are still taking your D supplement in the summer or what to do about the great sunscreen debate? You spend a whole 15 minutes a day in the sun, you couldn’t possibly still be deficient, right? Wrong! So, let’s talk about why that is, what you need the stuff for anyway, and what to do about it!
Why is everyone deficient?
Well I test my patients for Vitamin D and I can tell you that most everyone that doesn’t take it as a supplement, regardless of sun exposure, is deficient. Here are two main reasons this is so; #1 we wear sunscreen every time we walk into fresh air. Ahhh the sun, it’s going to kill us! Do you realize there is sunscreen in almost all makeups, lotions, and chapsticks? So on top of the fact that most of us wear clothes when we go outside, the small amount of skin that actually is exposed, is slathered with SPF. Equaling No vitamin D absorption. #2 Hexanes. Hexawhaa? Yeah, I know. They are these chemical compounds that are found in processed oils. Most people eat some amount of processed foods containing vegetable, corn, and canola oils to name a few. It’s hard. The stuff is everywhere. Hexanes are bad news yo! They act as hormone disruptors in the body. Hexanes actually decrease the body’s ability to convert vitamin D to a useable form, rendering us all with low D status.
What’s the D do?
Our bodies synthesize Vitamin D when we get UVB exposure onto our skin. We have cells called melanocytes that convert those rays into vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the immune system, calcium utilization, mental wellbeing, and oh so much more. Optimal Vitamin D levels (vitamin D, 25-OH above 60 ng/mL) prevent things like cancer, diabetes, auto immune disease, heart disease, and seasonal depression. It’s not one of those vitamins that has super obvious signs of deficiency, although some signs are; depression, cognitive impairment, bone pain, and a sweaty head. But is necessary for proper functioning of the entire body. Also, super important for that odd Naturopathic concept…Disease Prevention!
How to get the D?
We have all heard horror stories about skin cancer. Here are couple guidelines to follow to avoid all that craziness. First, if you are a redheaded, freckle faced person, disregard what I’m about to say. Stay outta the sun cause you have a much greater risk of getting burned! Secondly, Don’t Get Burned! A sunburn is basically hypervitaminosis D. Translation, too much vitamin D. If you burn your skin, you are causing damage to your cells, which can make them do crazy things like turn into cancer. So, you want to be exposed to the sun long enough to get that D, but not so long that you will burn. I know, life is full of challenges!
Let your skin see the sun. Yep I said it. If you aren’t that redhead, fair complected person I was talking to earlier, then go lay in the sun! Let your skin be exposed and refrain yourself from slabbing on sunscreen for AT LEAST a half hour. Your skin needs sun exposure at least this long to soak up Vitamin D. So, it’s winter time? Or you live in Oregon, where you never know what the next days weather will bring? Go tanning! But use the cheap beds, the ones with the highest amount of UVB, the ones the tanning salon sales people are trying to steer you away from. Hint, UVA does not convert to vitamin D. Then lay in the thing without lotion for 5-8 minutes so you DO NOT burn. Repeat weekly or every other week. I’m telling you, getting vitamin D through your skin is the natural way to do it. It can improve lots of symptoms in the body. The best thing is, it can suppress auto immune disease, which let’s face it, is most diseases now a days.
Sunscreen So if you are stuck outside in the sun all day for some reason, say, golf, camping, baseball, or whatever it is your children and or husband have roped you into, then apply some sunscreen or cover up with a hat and some clothing. Remember you DO NOT want to get burnt. I do not promote any specific brands but I will say that the ones that come in an aerosol spray can probably have enough chemicals in them to kill a horse, so should be avoided, and I do like organic zinc based variety. Ok, ok quit pressuring me, I will say that in my house we use babyganics and alba botanica mineral sunscreens. They are easily found at most of your local grocers and don’t have to be special ordered or hunt down. They are safe and effective. I’m sure there are better and safer varieties available, but I’m a busy mom living in the real world too. So that’s what I got for ya!
Supplementing with D. Take D3! Despite what anyone trying sell you Vitamin D2 says, D3 is way better absorbed by the body. Now, take an appropriate dosage. If your lab value was under 25 ng/mL then take 20,000 IU daily for a month then 10,000 IU daily for a month, then maintain with 5,000 IU daily. If your value is above 25 ng/mL then start at 10,000 IU daily for a month landing on a maintenance dose around 2,000 IU daily. I know such a high doses! Well, that’s the other reason everyone is low. Because they think taking 200 IU is actually doing something. Remember, we are fighting against all those evil hexanes!
FYI small amounts of vitamin D can also be found in foods such as egg yolks, button mushrooms, sardines, salmon and other fish, so eat up!