There’s a global D-ficiency happening.
Nearly 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sun exposure caused by suncreen use, a new clinical review says.
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association says people are staying inside too much and putting on too much sunscreen for fear of skin cancer. “SPF 15 or greater decreases vitamin D3 production by 99 percent,” the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) says.
The study, led by Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and assistant professor at Touro University, says that recommended levels of vitamin D should be about 6000 international units (IU) per day. Dr. Pfotenhauer told the Daily News that this equals about “5–30 minutes in midday sun twice per week. However, it is important to forgo sunscreen during these sessions.” That’s the equivalent to a walk outside in shortsleeves and capris.
Vitamin D, absorbed from the sun or through food, promotes calcium absorption, aids with bone health, and can help prevent rickets and osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays a role in supporting immune function and reducing inflammation. “We also think that it may impact cardiovascular health, respiratory health and some chronic diseases such as diabetes however, investigations as still ongoing.”
The study also noted that 95% of African-Americans have a vitamin D deficiency because of the melanin in their pigmentation. Darker skin doesn’t synthesize as much vitamin D, so African-Americans have higher needs for sun intake. “Those with darker skin would likely need closer to 30 min in the sun vs 5 min depending on geographic location,” said Dr. Pfotenhauer.
Other causes for the global deficiency include diseases like Type 2 diabetes and kidney, Crohn’s and celiac diseases, which prevent the body from properly absorbing vitamin D from food sources. “People generally spend less time outside as entertainment increasingly revolves around TV, video games and other screens,” Dr. Pfotenhauer also said. “Smog and pollution can also be factors since they can affect how much UV light reaches the earth.”
The statement that the body requires unprotected sun exposure is contrary to all the reports warning against skin cancer, but Dr. Pfotenhauer knows that caution is still required.
“While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D,” said Dr. Pfotenhauer. “Sunscreen is still very important to prevent skin cancer.”
Doctors can perform a test to determine your vitamin D levels and best practices, based on your skin type and georgraphy, to control your sunlight intake without putting yourself at risk.
The study says there are ways to get your recommended vitamin D amount without feeling the burn by consuming vitamin D found naturally in foods like fish (salmon and tuna), cheese, and egg yolks, or added to products like milk, orange juice, yogurt and Portobello mushrooms, and vitamin supplements.