Vitamin D and the Sun

UV rays from the sun trigger Vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Some researchers have stated that we should avoid sunscreen in order to get more Vitamin D in our “diet”. An increasing body of research supports the hypothesis that the active form of vitamin D has significant, protective effects against the development of cancer. Many internists are now telling their patients to get unprotected sun exposure daily to make sure that they get enough vitamin D. The problem with this recommendation is sun exposure leads to skin cancer and melanoma (which can lead to death if not diagnosed early), not to mention sun freckles, wrinkles and sagging of the skin. The truth is, no one applies enough sunscreen to adequately protect themselves from the harmful UV rays. We do not apply 15-30 min prior to exposure, we forget to re-apply every two hours and rarely does someone use an ounce of sunscreen (the recommended amount) on their body (this is equivalent to a shot glass size).

Currently, most experts in the field believe that daily intake of Vitamin D supplements between 1000 and 4000 IU will lead to a more healthy level of Vitamin D in the bloodstream which will offer protective effects against cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovary, lungs, and pancreas (Ingraham BA, Bragdon B, Nohe A. Molecular basis of the potential of vitamin D to prevent cancer. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Nov 21). Based on the available evidence, we recommend that all adults take a minimum of 1000 IU of Vitamin D per day and minimize unprotected sun exposure. Please consider continuing to use your sunscreen as much as possible and increase your vitamin D levels through supplementation.