How to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels Through Sunlight
The media, marketing and advertising have done such a good job in turning the public against the sun in the past 30 years that the majority of people are now vitamin D deficient. Although the threat of skin cancer is the main reason put forward for avoiding the sun, optimizing your vitamin D levels could actually help prevent many different types of cancer.
And how do you receive sufficient vitamin D to ensure you are not deficient?
Ironically, the very best way is through UVB exposure from the sun. Second choice is through vitamin D3 supplements. Unfortunately, we cannot get enough vitamin D from our food sources in any noticeable amount. According to John Cannell MD, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council: “Humans make thousands of units of vitamin D within minutes of whole body exposure to sunlight. From what we know of nature, it is unlikely such a system evolved by chance." Whenever it is summer in your part of the world, you have the perfect opportunity to boost your vitamin D levels, and those of your family members whatever their age, to set you up for the coming months.
There are some important facts that you should know first
1. Using a sun block with a SPF even as low as 8 can block close to 100% of vitamin D production. Please avoid sun blocks while you are boosting your vitamin D and as soon as your skin starts to turn pink, just move into the shade. It is sun burn and not healthy sun exposure that can cause problems. Sun blocks can be particularly toxic and have even been proven to lead to cancer.
2. Adjust your tolerance to the sun by slowly building up the amount of time you spend in the sun. Depending on your skin type, age and whereabouts you live in the world, you need 15 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure several days per week. If you are fair skinned, you will make all the vitamin D you need in half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink. The darker your skin, the longer it takes. Your skin type affects the amount of sunlight you require. Regular short exposure to the sun is much more advantageous than long sessions which could still have detrimental effects on your skin.
3. After your sun exposure for the day and if you have to be out and about, rather wear a shady hat and light colored cool clothing. Give your skin the chance to absorb the sunlight by not applying any soap to the areas for a few hours before and after exposure. At least 40% of the entire skin surface should be exposed for optimal vitamin D production. Top of the list for vitamin D production is the torso, followed by the legs and arms whle the face and hands produces little or none. So taking off that shirt or stripping down to your bikini top is well worth the effort.The optimum time of the day for maximum vitamin D is the 2 hours on either side of noon so if you are at work all day, you can use your lunch break to get out in that sun. The closer you are to the solar noon, the more vitamin D is produced. Don't forget to take into account the clocks being changed at the beginning and end of summer.
4. If you live in the warmer and sunnier southern parts of the northern hemisphere, you can carry on boosting your vitamin D throughout the winter months but where it is more northern and colder, you will not be able to get enough vitamin D from the sun and you will need to take vitamin D3 supplements.
5. Being over the age of 60 or younger than 20, and other factors such as altitude, cloud cover, air pollution or being behind glass can affect the amount of UVB you receive.
6. Your diet too can determine how sunlight affects you. Various anti-oxidants and good fats help strengthen skin cells. The most beneficial fruits include blueberries, raspberries, goji iberries and pomegranates along with plenty of vegetables. Fish oil is a very helpful supplement for this purpose.
7. It is a good idea to be tested for your vitamin D blood levels. The correct blood test is the 25OH vit D or 25 hydroxy vitamin D test - and for optimum health benefits, your results should be 50-80 ng/ml. If you are below 40 ng/ml, supplement with Vitamin D3 while you increase your level through sunlight. If sunlight exposure is not possible, you need a minimum of 2,000 IUs a day to a maximum of 8000 IUs of Vitamin D3 to reach your optimum level.
Dr Frank Lipman (internationally recognized expert in the fields of Integrative and Functional Medicine and a practicing physician) says: "For hundreds of thousands of years, man has lived with the sun: Our ancestors were outdoors far more often than indoors. We developed a dependence on sunshine for health and life, so the idea that sunlight is dangerous does not make sense. How could we have evolved and survived as a species, if we were that vulnerable to something humans have been constantly exposed to for their entire existence?"