Winter sun protection and Vitamin D deficiency
By Marné CarMicha Walsh, M.S., P-AC
Winter is just around the corner with cooler temperatures and wetter days. Many people let their sunscreens fall to the wayside thinking they don’t need the protection during this season. They couldn’t be more wrong. Ultra-violet radiation is only reduced by 20% on a cloudy day. Temperature is irrelevant as seen in colder climates. Don’t you remember getting sunburned or the “raccoon-face” tan the first time you went skiing?
Still, some are concerned that they won’t get enough Vitamin D. I can understand their concern given the media hype over Vitamin D deficiency and the long list of ailments and diseases that seem to result. The bottom line is that you should never use the sun as your source of Vitamin D. Supplements and dietary sources are much safer. Of the supplements, Vitamin D3 is the best form for absorption. Good sources of dietary Vitamin D include fish, eggs, liver, shiitake mushrooms and fortified dairy products. The FDA recommends that children take 400iu per day and healthy adults take 800iu per day.
How do I know if I might be at risk for Vitamin D deficiency?
Conditions such as fat malabsorbtion problems (i.e. cystic fibrosis,etc.), post-gastrectomy or gastric bypass, celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, lactose intolerance, HIV malabsorption, or patients such as the elderly who almost never get outside, should have their Vitamin D levels checked and corrected accordingly. If you suspect that your vitamin D levels are low, getting a simple blood test can determine if you are deficient.
In Hawaii, we get more year-round UV radiation, and therefore, more Vitamin D than most places in the US. I recommend that if someone insists on getting their Vitamin D dose from the sun, that they get it on parts of their body that are usually NOT sun exposed such as the abdomen or upper thighs. Other areas such as the face, shoulders, chest and arms should be protected during this time and daily. It is also better to get a small amount of sun daily (10-15 minutes is sufficient) than a large and lengthy dose of UV radiation. So, protect yourself in the winter months from UV radiation and if you think you are not getting enough Vitamin D, take a supplement, not a suntan!
Not sure which sunscreen is right for your lifestyle? Need a sunblock with Zinc or a high SPF sunscreen for water sports? Visit our sunscreen bar in Waimea for a full selection of products that provide the ultimate in skin protection including Obagi and Skinceuticals.