In my previous blog post in July, I talked about staying safe in the sun. As mentioned in that post, here I will talk more about vitamin D and how to maintain healthy levels safely.
Vitamin D is important for bone health and muscle strength. It is also linked to immune function. Very low levels have been associated with health conditions such cancer, diabetes, dementia, heart disease and multiple sclerosis.
As SKcin (the Karen Clifford skin cancer awareness charity) explains “Exposure to UVB radiation is the most efficient way for our bodies to boost our vitamin D supply. So, whilst some sun is definitely good for us, over-exposure to UV is a serious health risk, it’s therefore important to strike the right balance.” The sun emits three types of ultraviolet rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA can reach the middle layer of the skin where they can cause skin burn, skin cancer and premature ageing. UVB rays (often referred to as the ‘burning rays’) affect only the outer layer of the skin and are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer, but also stimulate the vital production of vitamin D in the skin. UVC rays do not reach our skin unless there is damage to the ozone layer.
From the end of September until the end of March, UVB light ray levels in the UK are insufficient for us to make healthy levels of vitamin D in our skin, so we need to supplement with the vitamin, unless our diet already provides adequate levels. It is worth checking labels because a lot of plant milks, margarines and cereals are fortified with vitamin D now, as well as some juices. The NHS recommends that 10 micrograms a day of vitamin D should be sufficient for most adults and children over the age of four. Some health conditions can affect the safe dose, so it is worth checking with your doctor if you are unsure, as too high an intake can be harmful.
From April until September most of us can produce sufficient vitamin D in our skin from unprotected exposure to daylight: from 10 minutes for paler skins and up to 45 minutes for darker skins (the important thing is not to burn). Don't worry, you cannot overdose on vitamin D from light exposure. People unable to ensure adequate sun exposure over the spring and summer are advised to supplement with vitamin D as above.
For more information about vitamin D, you can visit the NHS Choices website or listen to the ‘Get Some Sun’ episode of Dr Michael Mosley’s Just One Thing podcast. Keep well and do get in touch on 07528 708650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if I can support you with your health and wellbeing through holistic therapies or qigong.