Vitamin D deficiency and the solution
June 27, 2016 By Billy
Dear Health Enthusiast,
As you may know, Vitamin D deficiency has become a serious health issue. This is a health topic that I have become very passionate about to which I have dedicated a tremendous amount of time to research both the problem and the solution.
The Importance of Vitamin D
So first, why is vitamin D important? For a whole host of reasons! For starters, its deficiency can be linked to today’s prevalence of osteoporosis. Vitamin D metabolizes with calcium in the body helping to maintain sturdy bones. And did you know that vitamin D deficiency can significantly increase your risk of heart disease? A growing number of studies have shown a correlation.
It’s also a vital part of the immune system: one of the lesser-known but critical attributes of vitamin D is that it provides essential support in helping the body to remove toxins from your cells, effectively enhancing the life cycles of them, strengthening your body’s defenses against autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
Now here’s the issue – Sunshine is, by far, the most generous source of vitamin D available. However in an attempt to avoid skin damage and potential cancer, we slather sunscreen containing toxic chemicals (that enter the bloodstream) all over our bodies which ultimately ends up preventing the intake of Vitamin D, a vitally detoxifying vitamin! We call it sun block, but let’s call it what it really is: vitamin D block! How’s that for irony? But it gets even worse. To make up for our lack of vitamin D from the sun, we take unnatural, chemically manufactured supplements (which have become linked to a host of other problems that we will discuss). Something is definitely wrong with this picture.
Moderation and the Right Protection
The keys are moderating your time under the sun as well as the timing of your exposure to it. The target scenario is a short time in the sunshine with broad skin exposure. To get your vitamin D, five minutes in the middle of the day in shorts and a tank top is more than adequate for fair-skinned people. Or up to twenty minutes if you’re darker-skinned.
The timing here is very important. Sunshine comes to us in both UVA and UVB rays. It’s the UVA radiation that causes wear and tear of the skin. It’s in the UVB radiation where we get our vitamin D. In the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky, UVB rays are plentiful. But when it’s lower on the horizon, in the morning or late-afternoon and evening hours, when the rays come in at an angle, the atmosphere filters out most of the Vitamin D forming UVB rays.
For that short period (5-20 minutes) in the middle of the day, it’s vital to take advantage of direct, unscreened, unadulterated, pure sunshine. Let the sun’s rays do their job, interacting with tannins in your skin to form vitamin D which will then be absorbed into your bloodstream. Important side note: Vitamin D is formed both within the skin cells as well as in the oils on the surface of the skin. It can take up to two days for vitamin D in the oils on the skin to be absorbed into the body. So stay away from using abrasive soaps on the arms and legs and shoulders which can literally wash the vitamin D away. Rinsing is okay. Use soap where you need it and don’t worry – you’re not going to stink if you don’t use it on your arms and legs and shoulders! By the way, younger people produce more vitamin D on their skin than older people, one reason that osteoporosis generally shows up later in life. Older or younger, the key is both timing and maximum surface area of skin exposed to the sun. Hence, my suggestion of shorts and a tank top. Or why not a little topless sunbathing in the backyard for five minutes? Seriously.
Ah, but what if you’re planning an activity that’s going to involve being out in the sun all day? On the beach, maybe, or out on a boat? Sunscreens are necessary then, aren’t they? Not necessarily. First, there are better options than chemically made sunscreens. Know what’s in those chemically made ones? How’s this for an ingredient list: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. What?? These chemicals have been linked to skin allergies and hormone imbalances. Yup. They’re toxins that seep into the skin and accumulate in the body. No thanks. Go mineral rather than chemical. Use zinc oxide sunscreens. Yes, this is the sunscreen that goes on leaving you a bit white, so maybe it’s not as fashionable. But it’s more natural, safer, and very effective. Hey, something else to keep in mind: most people don’t realize that the chemical sunscreen ingredients listed above are in a lot of everyday skin ‘care’ products. You may be using sunscreen without even knowing it!
Incidentally, did you know that when manufacturers of sunscreens rate their product by SPF (Sunscreen Protection Factor), they’re assuming you’re rubbing tons of it on you? Outside of the laboratory, nobody is putting on the amount of sunscreen necessary to reach the advertised SPF. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 (meaning it theoretically provides 30 times the protection that bare skin provides) might, in reality, only be about a 5 or 10 given the amount most people use.
Really your best sunscreen is shade, like a beach umbrella or a straw hat that shades your face and neck and even shoulders. When you’re at the beach and you want to take a dip in the water, jump in, get your sun exposure, then jump out and hit the shade again.
If you spend a lot of your time out in the sun, it may be worth considering investing in some SPF clothing, kind of a new thing. An average cotton t-shirt has an SPF factor of between only 5 and 10. Fine if you’re not out in the sun all day. But if you’re constantly exposed to long hours in the sun, it may be worth checking out the lines of “sun safe” clothing on the market these days, many made from cotton woven with zinc oxide. This clothing can provide all the SPF you would ever need.
Other Sources of Vitamin D
In the winter months, depending on where you are, it’s often not as easy to get the vitamin D we need from the sun. Even on a sunny day, the sun is going to be lower in the sky, comparable to where it is in the mornings and evenings during the summer. Don’t despair. Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning that it can be stored for months in your fat cells. Plus, there are other ways to get vitamin D. Eggs and salmon (and other oily fish) are good sources of vitamin D. But note that farm-raised salmon only has about a fourth of the vitamin D that wild-caught has.
Winter, by the way, reveals another important attribute of the sun’s rays. When the eyes interact with sunshine, the body produces serotonin, improving mood. Yup, the “winter blues” is a real thing. But you can get the winter blues at any time of year if you’re indoors all the time and your eyes are not exposed to sunshine. The rays of the sun necessary to produce serotonin don’t pass through glass. So even sitting next to a sunny window won’t help. (Plastic, however, is conducive to the production of serotonin. This is one reason glass lenses have been replaced by plastic lenses in eyeglass wear.)
To compensate for whatever vitamin D you may not be getting in the winter, I don’t recommend resorting to supplements. Did you know that vitamin D3 supplements are made from a waxy substance called lanolin that’s taken from sheep’s wool and skin? Doesn’t sound like anything I’m very keen on ingesting, how about you? And like with other supplements, it’s easy to take too much vitamin D. An excess of manufactured vitamin D in the bloodstream has proven to be harmful for the heart and kidneys. You don’t have to worry about vitamin D toxicity if you’re getting your vitamin D naturally – from the sun or from foods. Overdosing on vitamin D can only happen through man-made supplements. Just another reason to stick with that which Mother Nature has already provided.
Back to Nature
So take that brief midday walk in the sun. Interact with nature. It’s a nice break in the day anyway, helping you manage your stress levels. And that’s a good thing where vitamin D is concerned because cortisol, the “stress hormone,” actually blocks the absorption of vitamin D. A nice little nature walk is a twofer. It reduces your stress and it allows the intake of a very valuable vitamin.
If you’re vitamin D deficient, then take it seriously by dedicating some time in your day for sunshine. Make it a solid and defined part of your lifestyle. Do it for a couple of months. Vitamin D can be tested with a blood test. Why not get tested before and after and see if you don’t get some definitive results showing the benefits of sunshine.
Of course you don’t want to get sunburned, but remember this: when you consider the way we’re blocking the health-essential powers of vitamin D with the toxic chemicals of sunscreen, together with the way we’re compensating for our vitamin D deficiencies with man-made chemical supplements, it’s a safe bet that life force and longevity are compromised more by lack of sunlight than by too much. However the key to getting it right, as always, is striking the right balance.
Yours Truly, Billy Merritt
PS…Did you find this article about Vitamin D helpful? If yes, then please pass it on to friends and family!