Sunscreen is partly to blame, but really, the problem is that most of us just aren’t spending enough time outside (beach bunnies and outdoor adventurers excluded). To top it off, there’s so much confusion about sunscreen use and ways to boost your vitamin D.
Let’s clear the air and separate fact from fiction with these 5 myths and truths About vitamin D.
5 Myths and Truths About Vitamin D
Before we get into the five myths and truths about vitamin D, you may be wondering why I’m even writing about the subject.
Maybe eight or ten years back, my OBGYN recommended I take it along with Calcium, as I showed signs of osteopenia in my hips. There was nothing to be alarmed about, but she suggested supplementing my diet with both vitamin D and calcium, and of course, I took her advice. Eight years later, nothing has changed, everything is status quo, and I’m fine. In an article for WebMD, Melinda Ratini, DO, MS, explains osteopenia:
“Think of it as a midpoint between having healthy bones and having osteoporosis.
Osteopenia is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis.”
So, years later, again, I’m fine, and I’m guessing it’s thanks to my Vitamin D and Calcium.
Now let’s get to those 5 myths and truths about vitamin D!
1. Vitamin D Boosts Your Immune System – True
According to the University of Maryland Medical, vitamin D can help boost your immune function and reduce your risk of flu and colds.
2. Sunscreen Blocks Vitamin D – Myth (Sort of)
It’s true that sunscreen blocks UVB rays, so theoretically, it should block vitamin D production, too. But most people don’t put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB rays. Some of us don’t put it on regularly enough for it to really make a difference.
In other words, don’t use vitamin D as an excuse not to put on sunscreen. It’s so important for preventing burns and reducing your risk of skin cancer.
3. Sun Exposure is the Best Way to Get Vitamin D – True
The sun really is the best source of vitamin D, and you don’t need to spend the whole day in the sun to get the vitamin D you need.
- 15 minutes for light-skinned individuals
- A few hours for individuals with dark skin
It isn’t easy to get vitamin D from food. The right supplements can help. But there’s really no replacement for good old-fashioned sunshine.
But rememeber, you have to be smart and careful about your exposure.
4. Vitamin D Can Make You Happy – True
Does being out in the sun put you in a good mood? That’s no coincidence. Vitamin D helps with serotonin production (you know – that feel-good brain chemical?).
Studies have found that vitamin D supplements can improve your mood.
So, if you’re feeling a little low, some vitamin D may be just what the doctor ordered.
5. If You Live in a Sunny Place, You Probably Get Enough Vitamin D – Myth
Living in a sunny climate makes it easier to get vitamin D, but there’s no guarantee that you are getting what you need. Many of us spend more of our time indoors, and sunscreen can make getting enough sun exposure to make vitamin D even harder.
That doesn’t mean that you should give up on your sunscreen (please don’t!), but you may want to make it a priority to get outside more often. Or get your D levels checked by your doctor. But, again, supplements can help, and your doctor may be able to recommend one.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin D plays such an important role in our health, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough of it. Smart, strategic sun exposure can help, or you can try supplements if your levels are low.
And don’t forget – sunscreen is still important no matter where you live.
And speaking of sunscreens, I’m no expert, and there are so many from which to choose these days. My personal favorites, Neutrogena Age Shield Face Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 110 for my face (it’s moisturizing) and Neutrogena Beach Defense Spray Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 70 Fast Absorbing Sunscreen Body Spray Mist for my body. Gary, my hubby, likes Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion.
SPF – The Higher, the Better?
I’m not even going to address the question, do sunscreens with higher SPF ratings guarantee better sun protection? For more on the topic, you can google and find plenty of info. The short answer (Wait – didn’t I say I wasn’t going to talk about this? Hmmm….) is not really. Even so, I’m a sucker for more SPF, and I always seem to gravitate towards higher SPFs.
Also, this isn’t a post about sunscreen, so let’s end this with a reminder to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. I will share that I use The Vitamin Shoppe Liquid Vitamin D3 as my supplement. However, I know there are several excellent brands available just about everywhere vitamins and supplements are sold.
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