Hi CGH Peeps!
With the Fall here now, and more of us spending less and less time outdoors, it’s time to consider vitamin d supplements…
If you’re like me, you’ve heard – for years – that you should put sunscreen on before going outside, and reapply if you sweat or swim, etc. Dermatologists have been telling us this for decades now, and it certainly helps to keep our skin from being sun damaged, and helps to reduce the rates of skin cancers.
That being said, it also causes many of us to become deficient – sometimes severely – in vitamin d. It’s a massive problem in our country, and many countries around the world that strongly encourage the use of sunscreen. And this can cause a host of health problems, some quite serious- including autoimmune diseases. (If you want more details- here’s a good journal article about it from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)
I always heard how I should drink milk to get my calcium and vitamin d. Unfortunately, however, many of us really aren’t getting enough vitamin d, even if we do drink milk quite often. And with all our sunscreen on, we’re not getting it through the sun either.
I am passionate in sharing this because I thought I was doing everything right. I nearly always wore sunscreen on my body if I knew I was going outside during the warmer months. And I have applied a moisturizer with a sunscreen in it on my face, everyday, for 15+ years now.
What I have learned – the hard way – is that I needed sun. I desperately needed the sun’s rays. I wound up with random rashes and inflammation on my skin, and was given steroid creams for years. I also developed other more significant autoimmune issues.
Finally, I found a doctor who tested my vitamin levels, and what do you know…I was deficient in vitamin d. Significantly.
Today, I continue to use my moisturizer/sunscreen combo on my face, but this fair skinned girl has become quite a thrill seeker. In warmer months, I try to get outside daily, for a few minutes, without sunscreen on my arms and legs. For the last several months, I’ve also taken a vitamin d supplement, to help bring my levels up faster.
Numerous rashes and skin inflammation that I’ve had for more than a decade, have healed. And I wonder if this had a role in my more serious autoimmune issues. It took years, but I finally found a doctor who figured it out, and helped my body get back on track. I still don’t get why more doctors don’t take this more seriously, but that’s a different blog post. 🙂
In order to determine how long I should go outside without the sunscreen on my arms and legs, I first go to this website to determine my local UV Index. Then, I look at this chart:
It’s important to keep checking your area’s current UV Index because it does change throughout the year. I’ve been told by my fabulous internist to always take a vitamin d supplement through the cooler/cold months, especially for those of us in the Northeastern United States.
I also take a much higher dose than what the above journal article recommends, but that’s per my doctor’s recommendation. I recommend that if you feel you may have a vitamin d deficiency, you speak to your doctor. If they’re aren’t interested or supportive of your inquiry, I have found that doctors who self identify as internists with integrative, integrated, or functional specialties tend to be.
If you want to learn more about vitamin d, and the health issues associated with deficiency, please check this video out. I learned TONS of really helpful info from it. Here’s Dr. Holick’s website too, if you want to check it out.
My personal goal is to get enough sun for my body to have healthy levels of vitamin d, while also protecting my skin as much as possible from excessive amounts of sun. I certainly don’t want skin cancer, or aged skin, but I also don’t want one (or two, three, four) of the many serious health problems that can be caused by a lack of vitamin d. For me, it’s a balancing act. And one that I think is very worth it.
Don’t forget- good health is contagious…pass it on!