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Sunlight Vitamin D and Your Skin – What You Need to Know

Patients often tell me they use tanning beds or spend time outdoors without sunscreen to ensure they “get plenty of vitamin D.” This vitamin certainly does a lot of good for our bodies. However, you don’t want to develop skin cancer and prematurely age your skin in the quest for it. That is why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends we get vitamin D from a healthy diet that includes foods rich in vitamin D, foods fortified with vitamin D, and/or from supplements.

Foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, sardines and cod liver oil. Milk, and often cereal and orange juice, are fortified with vitamin D. Whew! You don’t have to take a spoonful of cod liver oil every day. Finally, supplements are readily available with the recommended daily allowance for those aged 1-70 years being 600 IU and 800 IU for adults over 70.

Sunlight and Vitamin D are Related

How are sunlight and Vitamin D even related? Simply put, sun exposure causes our amazing bodies to produce this vitamin from a type of cholesterol. It takes very little sunlight to make this happen, around 15 minutes of exposure about two times a week. And remember, you get UV exposure through the windows in your car and home and even a little through your sunscreen. No need to seek out extra sun and increase the risk of skin cancer…and wrinkles…and sun spots…and saggy skin…

Tanning beds are never the answer and greatly increase the risk of melanoma. They are carcinogens, just like nicotine. If cigarettes increased vitamin D levels, would you take up smoking just to get some extra vitamins? Nope, you would find a better way!

The long and the short of it: you can get plenty of vitamin D without risking the health of your skin. Enjoy the sun but protect yourself out there!