LET THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN IN
For glowing skin, healthy bones and a thriving immune system, get some vitamin D in your life
The beauty of summer is upon us and after a long, chilly winter we’re finally able to emerge from our duvet cocoons and treat our pasty complexions to some much-needed rays. Of course, aside from a healthy glow, one of the main benefits a spot of sunshine can bring is a good old dose of vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin.
As you know, at DermOne Health and Wellness we’re all about the skin – and not just how it looks. This most important of organs has many wondrous functions, one of which is acting as a window, allowing sunshine goodness to flow into our bodies.
That’s right, vitamin D is taken directly through your skin when exposed to sunlight and once absorbed, the UV turns into a hormone called calcitriol, which manages the absorption of calcium in the bones and blood. It also plays a part in your body’s defence against disease, lowers blood pressure and nourishes you from top-to-toe. “In short vitamin D is a wonder hormone,” says board certified nutritionist, Dr Joseph Debé (drdebe.com). “It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that functions like a steroid hormone in your body and its plethora of benefits include fighting viruses and quenching inflammation to name but a few.”
Perhaps the most surprising and fascinating benefit of all is its ability to turn back the years. You heard us, vitamin D can actually make you younger… well, sort of! “A study, which involved a measure of biological age and vitamin D levels, found that those who had the highest levels of vitamin D had the longest telomeres (the caps on the chromosomes that protect the DNA from damage) and were equivalent to five biological years younger than their vitamin D-deprived counterparts,” says Dr Debé. This is music to our ears!
1. Getting your daily dose of D
There’s no denying that sunshine is the main natural source of vitamin D. However, these days, and particularly in recent weeks as the whole world has sheltered at home from the coronavirus pandemic, our lifestyles mean we spend a lot more time indoors than our ancestors did. But don’t fret, there’s no need to spend hours outside to feel the benefits and there are other ways to boost your quota. Follow our natural tips to top up your levels…
2. Enjoy some D time
Showing your skin some sun is one of the best ways to get your vitamin D levels on track, but it’s important to do it safely. Guidelines recommend we should be spending at least 15 minutes in the sun a day without an SPF to get this important boost.
“Skin production of vitamin D depends on sun strength, time of day, amount of skin exposed as well as skin tone,” explains Dr Debé. “The sun has to be strong enough and you have to have enough skin exposed without sunblock – and not just your face – to enable you to make vitamin D. An SPF of just 15 can block 100 per cent of your skin’s vitamin D production.
“As a general guide you need between 15 and 30 minutes of daily sun exposure to synthesize a sufficient level of vitamin D. Your torso produces the most, followed by legs and arms, with your hands and face producing very little.” So, if you have a garden or a balcony, aim to spend 15-30 minutes outside daily without sunblock. If you don’t have access to outside space at home then use your daily exercise regime to get some D time, and don’t be shy about showing some flesh – it’s for the good of your health after all!
Remember, the sun’s UV rays can be harmful so it’s important to apply sunblock regularly and liberally during the hottest hours of the day and when exposed for a prolonged period of time.
4. Support with a supplement
Aside from a spot of sunbathing, a dietary supplement is one of the best ways to up your vitamin D levels. However, what dosage to take can be rather confusing and depends on a whole host of varying factors, including how long you go out in the sun for, how often you eat oily fish, whether you use sunblock and your current vitamin D levels.
“The minimum recommended is 400iu (10mcg),” explains Dr Debé. However this dosage is not enough for most people. The important thing is to maintain a blood vitamin D level in the optimal range of 50-80 ng/ml.
“All things considered and as a general guide, a daily vitamin D supplement intake of 1000-4000iu (25-100mcg) is safe for virtually anyone to take without monitoring blood levels. The question is whether this amount is adequate. Vitamin D requirements are very individual. Some of my patients have required as much as 30,000iu of vitamin D daily to maintain healthy blood levels. Regular, periodic testing with your physician is key, think test, don’t guess.”
Finally, while dietary D is no substitute for the real deal from the sun’s rays, some foods such as eggs and oily fish can help to top up your quota. “Just one three-ounce serving of salmon can give you around 465iu of vitamin D,” says Dr Debé. “and many cereals thee days are fortified with vitamin D so it’s worth checking the label and filling up your breakfast bowl – just be sure you opt for the low sugar alternatives!”
So whether you like sitting in the sunshine, devouring a salmon salad or investing in a top quality supplement (or perhaps you enjoy all three), however you get it, make sure you get plenty of D in your life.
Telomeres study ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2196219/