Vitamin D: Is the sun enough?

We should rethink what we were thinking was true for a long time.

We often hear or read if the sun rays can help us to produce enough vitamin D. To be able to answer this properly we need to know a bit more about vitamin D.  

Our body is predominantly able to build vitamin D.  We just need the sun exposure to be able to do it.  What sometimes might be a bit of a problem when you are living in an area where it's either winter half of the year and sun not shining.  For the vitamin D synthesis, the body uses the suns’ specific UVB rays to modify a cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) provided by the liver and builds vitamin D in skin.

Interesting fact #1 to know is that, except in summer months, if you live above 37 degrees north or south of the equator you may have vitamin d deficiencies. AND if you wear sunscreen, which you need to protect your skin from sun damage, then your skin has limited access to the UV rays. AND, NO, you won’t be able to absorb the UVB while sitting in front of a sunny window in your room as these rays are reflected from the windows.  There are many factors which hinder the vitamin D synthesis difficult for our body

 Essential Factors for Vitamin D synthesis 

Unless you have the sunny destination scheduled you are in with a chance of not having that much of sun exposure, especially as of November all through to March, and even longer if the winter decides to reside longer with us.  More so, if you are one of those who only travel from indoor to indoor during- home to office or home to shopping malls. And if we get the chance to see the sun, then most of our body is covered in clothing or higher SPF factors to protect us from the damaging sun rays.  

UVB is one of the ultraviolet rays needed to kick start the Vitamin D production.  The synthesis happens in our skin cells with the cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) provided from our liver.  

A minimum exposure of 10-30 minutes a day is essential for the vitamin d synthesis. The same UVB, important for our Vitamin D level, is dangerous for our skin.  It is known that exposure to UVB stresses our skin, releases free radicals, which is ageing our skin faster, is responsible for the brown and dark spots appearing on our skin, and can be cancerogenic.  

Even though it is imperative for us to protect our skin from sun rays, the same protection hinders us from absorbing the sun rays to start the vitamin D synthesis.  With a SPF 15 the synthesis is reduced significantly, with SPF 20 and above there will be no synthesis happening.   

Another factor is that only 20 percent of our vitamin D can be covered from our diet, such as nuts, fish, avocado and other omega rich nutrients.    

Our age is another factor which plays a great role in how well we can produce vitamin D.  As we age, our ability to build the D vitamin reduces, a fact which is mirrored in the higher risk of developing osteoporosis as we age.   

Supplement with vitamin D

It is essential to supplement with a well absorbable vitamin D, especially during the darker time of the year, fall and winter.  During the wintertime sun is less visible and its angle is less than 50 degree from the horizon which means, even when exposed to it, our skin cells don’t get the message to build the vitamin D.   

That's why we grab omega rich foods during the winter months, nuts such as walnuts, salmon and mackerel are rich in healthy omegas which help us to cover the vitamin D deficiency.  

Our food industry has realised the importance of vitamin D in our diet and has been enriching our food with vitamin D to cover that deficiency, an ingredient you might have seen in your dairy products and juices.  However, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, it is doubly important to supplement regularly with a vitamin D supplement.

You should remember that Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and needs a fatty solution to be absorbed.  Just until recently only 1000 IU was the recommended dosage for vitamin D. As of March 2021, Health Canada has approved a higher supplementation of Vitamin D up to 2500 IU to prevent and reduce conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency.    

Vitamin D Sunshine

Even though summer may be easier to indulge in grabbing more rays of sunlight outside, it is just as important if not more in the winter. Totally understand that even in good weather it can be difficult to grab some sunlight. Below you will see some fun winter / summer activities that you and your friends can indulge in to ensure you get your natural resource of vitamin d! So let’s up your levels!

Summer:

  • Swimming
  • Walks
  • Hikes
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Baseball

Winter:

  • Snowboarding 
  • Horseshoe
  • Walks
  • Hikes
  • Tubbing

However in any season it's important to protect our skin layers with a high spf sunscreen. The uv radiation even at different hours of the day can be extremely high, ensuring that you’re wearing uva protection to avoid any skin damage.

Doing your research is key! Below are some points that you should look at before purchasing a sun protection.

Sun protection factors:

  • Active ingredients
  • Water resistant
  • For sensitive skin
  • Fragrance free
  • Tested on animals
  • Vegan spf
  • Uva and uvb protection
  • Mineral sunscreen

Of course, moisturising with the hyaluronic acid and vitamin c serums can keep your skin hydrated and rejuvenated throughout all the seasons!

 

 

Disclaimer 

Pascoe Canada does not offer health or medical advice as we are not a healthcare practitioner. Please speak with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any program related to nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical, and/or wellness. All content published by Pascoe Canada is developed through collaborating with licensed medical professionals and contributors. This includes text, graphics, images, and other material on the website, newsletter, and products (“Content”). This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The content does not substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always do your own research on whether this is for you along with your healthcare practitioner advice. Always consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using specific herbs because you might have underlying conditions that need professional care. The content is general in nature and is subject to change. It is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.

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