Sunscreen: Cause Of Vitamin D Deficiency

The sun is often cited as a risk factor for skin cancer. Sunscreen is therefore almost mandatory. The higher the sun protection factor, the better, one might think. But if you only leave the house with sunscreen, your risk of vitamin D deficiency increases considerably, because the sunscreen reduces vitamin D formation in the skin. A vitamin D deficiency, in turn, is one of the causes of many chronic diseases and should be avoided if possible.

Health experts recommend regular sunbathing without sunscreen

In December 2010, seven health organizations – including Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis Society – issued a joint statement recommending that people get more sun exposure.

For decades people have been warned about the possible dangers of direct sunlight. However, a number of studies are now refuting the notion that the sun is flatly dangerous, instead demonstrating its vital importance to human health.

And so even those health experts agreed that people urgently need regular exposure to the sun for adequate vitamin D formation and thus for their health – WITHOUT the exposure to the sun being blocked by sun milk or sun cream.

Sunscreens lead to vitamin D deficiency

The constant sun warnings have prompted millions of people to stay out of the sun or at least put on sunscreen before going outside. The use of sunscreens and sunblocks has at least two disadvantages: Firstly, the organism is burdened with some unfavorable ingredients from the sunscreen, and secondly, blocking the sun’s rays means that little or no vitamin D can be formed in the body.

The following applies: the higher the sun protection factor, the less vitamin D is formed. A sun protection factor of 50 completely blocks UVB radiation. But sun protection factors of around 10 can also block up to 90 percent of UVB radiation.

Anyone who regularly uses high sun protection factors is ultimately completely or largely dependent on a vitamin D supply from food. On the one hand, however, vitamin D is only found in very small doses in foods and, on the other hand, it is preferred in foods that are rarely eaten or only eaten in small amounts (e.g. oily fish and liver).

Consequently, the vitamin D supply can hardly be covered through food alone. A chronic vitamin D deficiency is the result.

Vitamin D deficiency favors the development of lifestyle diseases

A study published in the March 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that a large proportion of the population in industrialized countries, 59 percent, is said to be vitamin D deficient. The leader of the study, Dr. Richard Kremer from McGill University Health Center in Montreal/Canada said:

Abnormal vitamin D levels are linked to a wide range of diseases. These include cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, but also cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune diseases (e.g. type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, etc.).

Vitamin D supports weight loss

Dr. Kremer’s study also clearly showed the connection between a lack of vitamin D and the accumulation of body fat. In other words: Sunshine supports the reduction of body fat and thus weight loss in overweight people.

Vitamin D activates the immune system

Further research proves the influence of vitamin D on the human immune system. Professor Carsten Geisler from the Faculty of International Health, Immunology, and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen was able to show in recent studies that the T cells of the immune system remain inactive without vitamin D and therefore offer little or no protection against pathogens such as e.g. B. provide viruses.

T-cells are part of the body’s specific immune defenses, which means that they are formed specifically to defuse very specific pathogens or foreign cells. But they can only become active if vitamin D is in the bloodstream. Only then do the T cells begin to track down the intruders and ensure their destruction.

Soak up the sun several times a week

Professor Rona MacKie, of the British Society of Dermatologists, told BBC News that in the past sun exposure had been reported far too negatively.

So it’s worth it in several ways to enjoy the sun more often and, above all, regularly. Of course, you can’t skip sunscreen completely.

Rona MacKie suggests going out in the sun several times a week for 10 to 15 minutes at a time without sunscreen and lightly clothed. With this moderate sunbathing you can ensure the formation of vitamin D and at the same time do not take any risks of skin cancer. If you want to stay out longer in the sun, apply sunscreen now—after the first 10 to 15 minutes.

What if the sun doesn’t shine?

Unfortunately, Professor Mackie’s advice can only be implemented in northern climes in the summer – if you have the time. Also, their time specification (10 to 15 minutes) only applies to very light-skinned people. People with a darker skin type or people who have already tanned need to stay in the sun for much longer in order to be able to absorb the UVB radiation required for vitamin D formation in sufficient quantities through the skin.

Apart from that, the skin can produce less and less vitamin D with age, making it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of older people.

In winter in Central Europe, it is also almost impossible to fill up vitamin D in the sun. If it shines at all, the sun is too low for much-needed UVB radiation to make it to earth. Therefore, during the winter, the body must draw on the vitamin D stores it built up during the summer—if it built any at all.

Take vitamin D properly

These supplies usually do not last the entire winter. This may be an important reason why many people’s immune systems begin to show weaknesses from January and the flu waves roll through the country.

To be on the safe side, vitamin D supplements can be used in the winter months. The dose is determined according to need.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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