How to Get Enough Vitamin D While Protecting Your Skin From the Sun
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. But, even if you are getting enough of this vital nutrient, you will only benefit from its full bone-strengthening potential if you are also getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D. That’s because your body needs vitamin D to effectively absorb and use calcium. This means that a vitamin D deficiency can allow valuable calcium to go to waste, and possibly lead to the development of brittle bones, fractures, and osteoporosis.
Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, but you can get it from sources other than your diet, such as through sunlight exposure. When your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UVB) rays, your body forms vitamin D precursors, which are then converted by your kidneys into the active form of vitamin D. After entering your bloodstream, the vitamin D can reach and strengthen the bones throughout your body.
Of course, despite its benefits, UVB is also harmful. Not only does it cause sunburn and skin damage, but it is also directly linked to most skin cancers. Many sunscreen products are designed to filter UVB rays to protect your skin and prevent sunburn and skin cancer. However, because UVB rays also help your body produce vitamin D, you might be wondering whether it is better to wear sunscreen or go without it.
While the precise effect of sunscreen on your body’s production of vitamin D remains unclear, the regular use of sunscreen has been proven to lower the risk of skin cancer. For this reason, most experts continue to recommend the daily use of sunscreen for everyone, even those who spend most or all of their time indoors.
With that in mind, here are some ways that you can safely boost your vitamin D intake:
- Eat foods that are natural sources of vitamin D, such as cheese, egg yolks, tuna, and salmon.
- Eat and drink vitamin D-fortified foods and beverages, such as cereal, dairy products, and orange juice.
- Ask your physician to recommend appropriate nutritional supplements that contain vitamin D.
In addition to improving your bone health, vitamin D can potentially provide many other benefits. For instance, researchers are currently investigating its role in preventing several health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and depression.
If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between UVB exposure and vitamin D, you can talk with a physician at South Tampa Immediate Care without an appointment. Just walk into our conveniently located office on Howard Avenue in South Tampa.