We all know about the dangers of not protecting our skin from the sun. They range from cosmetic, such as sun spots and early aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines to life-threatening skin cancers. But the sun isn't actually an enemy. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, which our body needs to function properly. When your Vitamin D levels are low, you run into many symptoms, which definitely can effect your day.
What are Some Symptoms of Low Vitamin D? Signs of Vitamin D deficiency can be vague and many times are overlooked. Some common signs are depression, muscle and bone pain and fatigue.
How Can You Find Out Your Vitamin D Levels? Finding out your Vitamin D levels are as easy as a simple blood test called 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test preformed at your doctor's office.
What Health Concerns does Someone with Low Vitamin D Levels Face? Besides the common symptoms listed above, a person with chronic low levels of Vitamin D can face a greater risk of diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
So if Vitamin D is so Important, How Can We Be Sure We're Getting Enough from the Sun While Protecting Our Skin with Sunscreen? There are people who think that the medical field has caused too much alarm over the sun and the use of sunscreen. But these people definitely have their facts about Vitamin D and the sun wrong. Here's what you have to know.
- To get all of the Vitamin D you need each week from the sun, you only need up to 20 minutes of sun exposure on areas such as your hands, legs or face two times a week.
- On average, it takes sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes to protect your skin from the sun after you apply it. Check out your sunscreen bottle; it probably says to apply up to 30 minutes before you go into the sun. If you apply it right before you go outside, your skin is still getting that Vitamin D for the day.
- While many of us are good at remembering sunscreen in our daily moisturizer or putting it on before we go play outside in the summer, most of us aren't as good as we think we are. For example, did you know the SPF in your moisturizer only lasts a couple hours before you should reapply? How many of us put on more before we go out in the afternoon? What about the days where you are wearing a short sleeve shirt and you take your dog for a quick walk or drive to the store? Needing only 40-60 minutes of sun a week in small areas of your body is easy to do without even thinking about it.
And You Can Get Vitamin D in Foods, Too! To play it safe, look for Vitamin D loaded foods to add to your diet. Some great options are different types of fish, such as cod and salmon, shiitake mushrooms and eggs. There are also many options of Vitamin D fortified foods to choose from.
Still Not Convinced You Can Get Vitamin D with Sunscreen? If you want to get out in the sun uncovered to get your weekly doses of Vitamin D, do so in the morning or late afternoon when the sun isn't straight overhead. The UV rays aren't as strong in the mid morning and late afternoon as they are mid day. Go ahead and head out in the sun twice a week for 15 or 20 minutes and you'll be set.
What about the Winter? If you live in the northern states, it's a good idea to take a supplement in the winter. (Though, don't forget about sunscreen in the winter, because you can still get sunburned!
Vitamin D deficiency is serious business, and it's important to stay on top of it. Check out your mulit-vitamin; chances are good you're getting the daily recommendation without even knowing it.