There’s an increase in awareness for the importance of vitamin D nowadays. However, the public opinion’s take on the importance of sunlight to the intake of vitamin D has yet to change. With the scientists still fighting over whether sunlight has an impact or not, maybe it’s time we put this question into the spotlight and examine it further with our own analysis.
Visiting any supermart or department stores shows that sunscreen is the hot item nowadays. Sunscreen in your make-up, tanning lotion with sunscreen, sunscreen for your baby, and many more products anyone could think of.
Applying sunscreen is harmless and all but it does not help in decreasing the rate of skin cancer at all! In fact, it is steadily increasing and is on high alert. On top of that, people are getting skin cancer on spots that could never be exposed to sunlight. This case is indeed quite intriguing and alarming for consumers.
As such, let us examine how the exposure of sunlight affects our body and how important it is in our system.
How We Process and Intake Vitamin D from the Sun
Ever since humankind existed, we have acquired vitamin D by exposing ourselves to sunlight in varying amounts according to our contiguity to the equatorial plane. Acquiring vitamin D mainly through eating is never heard of because vitamin D is not primarily present in them.
As we remember from our numerous biology class, some lifeforms such as land-based plants and aqueous plants utilize the sunlight as part of their photosynthesis process to produce oxygen that we breathe in a daily basis. In the case of human beings, it is still significant although the sunlight works differently for us. We also learn that going outdoors and exposing ourselves to sunlight every day gives us the vitamin D we need. Through exposure to ultraviolet-B from the sun, it causes a photochemical reaction under or skin and generates cholecalciferol or the vitamin D3.
There are numerous foods that give us vitamin D3 such as eggs and meat. However, the moment the vitamin goes through our system, it is then transported through the bloodstream and then to our liver which is then converted into the prohormone calcidiol. The prohormone is turned into calatinol by the kidneys in our body. The calatinol, which is a hormone responsible for the regulation of calcium in our body, circulates and does it works as the regulator of mineral concentration in our system.
The process mentioned above is essential for our primary body functions, and thus it is profoundly connected to cases such as vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer.
What is the reason for Vitamin D deficiency?
Nowadays, the cases wherein people experiencing chronic vitamin D deficiency are rising which is why we must examine the multiple reasons behind this.
People who live in places that are closer to the equator such as in Africa contains excess melanin in their skin therefore having a darker skin pigment so that they could prevent themselves from burning. While the lighter skinned people who lived in the northern part of the world has the capability to produce vitamin D themselves rather quickly compared to others. This system is not applicable today because of the easy access to traveling in which light-skinned people is now capable of living in places with burning temperatures, causing sunburns and the same could be applied for dark-skinned people who could transfer to Canada.
Thus, light-skinned people must live in places where there is less exposure from the sun while those with darker skin pigment must live in areas that give them more exposure to sunlight. This way, the probability of anyone experiencing chronic vitamin D deficiency would decrease significantly.
There is a set parameter that our body naturally contains when it comes to vitamin D acquisition and sunburns are the best example of this parameter. The goal is to get adequate sun and not ever burn. This differs between people who have different skin pigmentation, like how light-skinned people need 30 minutes while darker-skinned people may need more than two hours.
Lesser outdoor involvement
Nowadays, our activities are mainly conducted indoors, leaving the outside world for good. In a research conducted during the 1990s that were funded by EPA, it showed that ten regions located in the United States that the people spend about 90% of their time indoors, clearly indicating that we spend lesser time exposing ourselves to sunlight, therefore, leading to vitamin D deficiency.
Use of Sunscreen/Lack of Sun
Chances of anyone going outdoors is rather low, and we bathe ourselves with sunscreen lotion the moment we could get an opportunity to spend time outside. There were speculations that the chemicals found in sunscreens are linked to cancer formulation and speculations that there are chemicals found to create free radicals in the body to produce an estrogenic effect.
If using sunscreens are speculated to be dangerous, then how do we protect ourselves from sunburns and overexposure? The answer we could draw from this one would be to normally go out, soak yourself for a reasonable amount of time and get out! Never forget to stay hydrated, stay shaded and wear weather-appropriate clothing.
Low Magnesium and vitamin K
Lower levels of magnesium caused by the poor soil quality results in a deficiency in magnesium and vitamin K that helps the vitamin D metabolize in your liver and kidneys. Even with proper vitamin D intake, if there is not enough magnesium and vitamin K to process your vitamin D it would still be useless. It would be better if you acquire magnesium and vitamin K more frequent to properly utilize your obtained vitamin D.
How important is vitamin D?
People still find it hard to understand the importance of sun exposure and its relevance to vitamin D even with many studies supplied to them. Chances are, you would still ignore sun exposure and do not supplement more than the required intake of vitamin D. But if you are not worried about these things, then go ahead:
Cancer – Research is now estimating that 75% of cancers can be prevented by acquiring the advised dosage of vitamin D.
- Immune System –Vitamin D is vital in the production and function of T-Cells that helps protect our body from infections and bacteria.
- Calcium Levels – Vitamin D controls the phosphate and calcium circulation in the blood that in turn helps bone strength and bone growth.
- Inflammation – Inflammation found all throughout the body could be caused by vitamin D deficiency. Don’t forget to hit the beach for lesser joint pains and inflammation!
Things you should also consider:
- Deficiency of magnesium can inhibit vitamin D function, so make sure you get that too!
- You should take not that vitamin D contributes to calcium circulation and absorption, and make sure to drink as much calcium for proper usage of vitamin D.
- Don’t forget to eat proteins and fats to sustain your body nutrients properly.
- Limit your grain eating habits.
Dosage of Vitamin D needed
Vitamin D is more than just a regular vitamin that we need for RDA.
Vitamin D is necessary for moms since it is a hormonal precursor. Many women are facing problems when it comes to their hormones like from PCOS to infertility to depression — vitamin D deficiency is a huge part of the puzzle.
What is so ironic with the case of vitamin D deficiency is that it is accessible for free through sun exposure that is literally right outside of their homes, but they are shockingly deficient. Perhaps this is due to the amount of time we spend indoors rather than exposing ourselves regularly to sunlight that in turn poses a problem for us. What is also ironic is that the moment we go outside, we always find ways to hide away from the sun!
According to experts, vitamin D deficiency is the most obvious and dangerous type of vitamin deficiency. It varies from person to person and a blood test is the only way to tell the proper amount of vitamin D you have to intake. You want to get your 25(OH)D levels tested and aim for getting them between 50 and 70.
Is it necessary to drink Vitamin D Supplement?
The all-natural sun, or a supplement? Which is the better way to get the vitamin D.
No matter what methods the vitamin D is acquired, it’s still the same when it goes down in our liver. The recommended method would be exposing yourself naturally and safely under the sun, no matter what the methods but as long as you could get vitamin D it’s all right. If sun exposure is not possible due to the current situation or not feasible, supplementing orally is necessary.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D
- Spending a safe amount time in the sun is always the safe bet and partnered with proper diet and lifestyle to prevent dehydration and sunburns.
- Dress appropriately or a safe sunscreen for long sun exposure.
- Get blood levels of vitamin D tested and purchase supplements if needed to get levels in optimal range.
- Make sure to get enough magnesium and vitamin K as well!