Healthy Exposure of Sun Rays and Vitamin D Absorption

As summer is fast upon us, I am always fascinated with the two opposing views of sun exposure – the increase of skin cancer vs. the reduction of Vitamin D absorption.

My view encourages shorter exposure to sun rays. I treat many patients who want to reduce fine lines and hyperpigmentation or freckles. And across the hall from my medical spa is a MOHS suite.  MOHS is a surgical procedure to remove skin cancers.  I literally see the “walking wounded” covered in bandages many times each day.

The other view is that those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. The researchers cited in Archives of Internal Medicine that “decreased outdoor activity” as one reason that people may be low in vitamin D over an eight-year period. Other diseases, such as osteoporosis, cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon may also increase.

The summer months are a great time to let the sun rays warm your skin.  This is when Ultraviolet B rays are peak. When UV-B rays touch the skin, a reaction takes place that allows skin cells to produce vitamin D.

So I offer a balance. Three to five times a week:

  • If you’re fair skinned, go outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen
  • This will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of vitamin D
  • If you are of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes.
  • If you are Dark-skinned individuals s may require six times the sun exposure
  • Also increase your intake of eggs, shitake mushrooms, salmon/tuna and fortified milk (almond and soy preferably)

Then in the winter (or if there are too many rainy days in the summer – like NOW), many experts recommend a supplementation of 2,000 IUs per day. This is an increase from the government’s dietary recommendations are 200 IUs.

Enjoy the sun rays in short spurts, protect your face at all times (who wants wrinkles!) and supplement when needed.

Time in the Sun: How Much Is Needed for Vitamin D? With heart deaths linked to low vitamin D levels, an expert offers advice on getting just enough sun. By Deborah Kotz, Contributor 

June 23, 2008

US News and World Report

Image – Vitamist


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