How to Get Enough Vitamin D From the Sun Without Risking Cancer – Newsmax
Recent studies have shown the importance of adequate vitamin D in staying healthy.
The vital nutrient has been shown to protect against a wide range of conditions including arthritis, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, depression, asthma, heart disease, and eczema.
The best source? The sun.
Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when our skin absorbs sunlight.
When medical researchers in Lebanon studied two groups of women with osteoporosis — with study volunteers coming from the Middle Eastern nation’s Christian and Muslim communities — they found Muslims complying with the skin-covering dress rules of their faith mostly had lower vitamin D levels than Christians.
This leads to a dilemma: We are often warned that sun exposure can cause deadly skin cancer (melanoma) and premature aging. So how can we get enough vitamin D without putting ourselves at risk?
“It isn’t a choice between skin cancer or vitamin D deficiency,” says Terry Slevin, M.D., a world-renowned skin cancer and vitamin D authority.
A former lecturer in public health at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, he’s currently education and research director at Western Australia’s Cancer Council. He recently edited a book titled “Sun, Skin and Health,” published by Australia’s government-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
His reassurance comes with a stark warning: “A tan is a sign your skin has been damaged.”
His home country of Australia, he adds, is “skin cancer capital of the world,” with two in three Australians developing it by age 70.
Dr. Slevin has developed a set of five common-sense guidelines to help people get enough vital vitamin D from the sun while still staying safe from melanoma:
No. 1: Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels.
This is done with a simple and inexpensive blood test. If you test below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), take a daily vitamin D supplement. A typical dosage is 2,000 IUs a day. Your doctor may recommend a dosage for you based on your test results.
Those needing additional vitamin D often include dark-skinned people (whose skin pigment reduces UV radiation absorption), those wearing skin coverings for religious or cultural reasons, seniors, individuals who are housebound, babies of vitamin D-deficient mothers, and osteoporosis patients.
No. 2: Allow yourself no more than 15 minutes a day in full sunlight in the middle of the day without skin protection.
This will give most people all the vitamin D they need. After that, cover yourself with protective clothing (and a wide-brimmed hat) and apply sunscreen thickly and evenly to exposed skin. Use an SPF of 30 or higher and look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. These minerals block the sun more safely than chemicals such as oxybenzone or octinoxate.
No. 3: Be aware of the UV index in weather reports.
High readings? Keep out of the sun. Use common sense: Early mornings and pre-dusk are the best times to hit beaches without worry of skin damage.
Cover up if the UV Index is 3 or more (or described as Very High, meaning you could burn in 30 minutes or less).
No. 4: Don’t let shade cast false security.
Shade, while useful, typically cuts UV dosages only in half.
No. 5: Have a doctor examine new or changing skin spots or moles.
If you have fair skin, blue eyes and freckles, you should consider annual checkups with a dermatologist.
The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.