How to get your vitamin D and practice safe summer sun

Vitamin D

Photos used with permission under Creative Commons license: earthlydelights on Flickr and National Cancer Institute.

By pH health care professionals

Now that summer is here, you will likely be spending much more time in the sun. While the sun has many health-promoting benefits, such as vitamin D production, it can also lead to other undesirable effects, including sunburn and cancer.

We want you to get your daily dose of D, but without increasing your risk for skin cancer. Read about the ways to get vitamin D as well as how to find the best natural sunscreen to prep for all those beach days, barbeques and backyard parties.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is stored in the fatty tissue of the body for some time. This is a good thing because you can go a few days without sun exposure and still have enough vitamin D in your system. However, when a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin D is consumed in excess (possibly through supplements), there is a risk for toxicity.

Vitamin D also plays a critical role in the way the body absorbs and uses calcium. You need vitamin D to aid in bone production and maintenance. A deficiency in this vitamin may lead to osteoporosis in adults, rickets in children, or other skeletal deformities. Some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency puts people at risk for bone fractures, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

How do you get vitamin D?

Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” your body makes vitamin D when your skin is directly exposed to sunlight. According to the National Institute of Health, 10 to 15 minutes in the sun three times a week is enough to get your body’s required amount of vitamin D. While some people are able to meet their daily dose of vitamin D in this way, many people do not live in sunny locations and may not be able to naturally produce enough vitamin D. They may need to get their vitamin D through food and/or supplementation.

There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D but there are many that are “fortified with vitamin D,” meaning vitamin D has been added to it. Milk and cheese are among the foods that have been fortified with the most vitamin D. If you still are not getting enough natural vitamin D from the sun or from food, there are also vitamin D supplements.

The recommended amount of vitamin D varies from person to person. At pH Labs, we can test to see how much vitamin D is in your body to make sure you are getting an adequate amount.

Practice sun safety

Although sunshine can be good for your vitamin D production, it is important to practice “safe sun.” This means finding a good sunscreen with natural ingredients. While no sunscreen is completely organic or chemical free, there are definitely ingredients that are better than others.

Look for sunscreens that contain ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera gel, sunflower oil, green tea or eucalyptus oil.

Avoid toxic ingredients in sunscreen

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research organization, researches and vets sunscreens each year for safety. So when you’re picking a brand, cross check it with the group’s recommendations here.

To make their list of safe sunscreens, products must be free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), not have SPF above 50 and protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Why? Because, EWG says, oxybenzone has been linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer, retinyl palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, and sunscreens with high SPF numbers give a false sense of security.

It is also important to note that an SPF rating refers to protection against UVB rays, which burn your skin. Sunscreen with a high SPF still may leave you vulnerable to UVA rays, which can accelerate aging and cause skin cancer. So be sure to select sun protection that covers both types of sun rays (UVA and UVB).

Have you found a natural sunscreen that you like? We’d love to hear which one you’re using and what you like about it! Tell us in the comments below.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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