The Catch 22 of Vitamin D

vitamin D

As we are awakened more to the risks of skin cancer, especially in Australia, a.k.a “the sunburnt country”, we have become legends at ‘slip, slop, slap’. Nice one! But, our vigilant covering up may be preventing us from absorbing the essential Vitamin D.

We need Vitamin D for strong bones, muscles, overall health, and according to this study, regulating mood & improving depression symptoms. Do you know how Superman recharges his superpowers from the sun? It’s a little bit like that, but with less red capes and flying.

It can be made right here in our bodies, when the sunlight touches our skin it makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. This is our best way to gain it, followed by supplements, and trace amounts via diet.

Yet, prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. So, where do we draw the line?

Did you know the body can only absorb a limited amount of vitamin D at a time? So, spending longer periods in the sun will not assist you in making more of it, and instead, increase your risk of skin cancer.

According to this study, the best time for sun exposure is actually at noon - when the sun is strong! This is because you should only need a few minutes in the sunshine at this time to gain significant amounts of Vitamin D - shortening our window of being exposed to UV radiation!

The symptoms of low Vitamin D may not always seem obvious, but can have significant health effects - primarily affecting the bones and muscles. If you are concerned you may have a Vitamin D deficiency, speak to your GP about it - they may recommend a supplement.

Here’s our tips:

  • Get some sun on your skin around 12noon or midday. As you only need to spend a few minutes in the sun at this time to make a sufficient amount of Vitamin D, compared to 10-30 minutes in the morning or afternoon. Therefore, reducing your risk of prolonged sun exposure.
  • Another option is to instead spend 10 minutes in the sun before applying sunscreen. Little Urchin Natural sunscreen’s zinc properties work immediately upon application - so you don’t need to wait a further 20 minutes for chemical sunscreen to work.
  • Don’t overdo it. You only need a few minutes per day to make a sufficient amount of the 'sunshine vitamin'.

 

The sun is so beneficial for us, it improves our mood, gives us energy and promotes good health. Even though the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is essential to strong bones and muscles, it’s important to keep overall sun safety in mind!

 

Written by Ally Dunlop

 

References:

 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2796.2008.02008.x
"
Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial" Jorde, R [2008]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348449
“At what time should one go out in the sun?” Moan, J

https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/vitamin-d/
"Vitamin D" [2019]

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-d
"Vitamin D"