Why We Need Sun Exposure not Supplements to make Vitamin D

Most of us have heard by now that vitamin D has benefits for your bone health, mood and energy. Using vitamin D has been helpful in treating a wide range of conditions from prostate cancer to depression, autism, rheumatoid, arthritis, eczema and digestive disorders.

One of vitamin D’s benefits that is not well known is that it may reduce your risk of dying from any cause.Vitamin D influences our DNA through vitamin D receptors which bind to specific locations on the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels throughout the body. It doesn’t matter what condition or disease a person has vitamin D appears to play a crucial role and this is because vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but it is indeed a powerful steroid hormone precursor! When UVB sun radiation strikes the skin surface the skin makes a cholesterol and turns it into Vitamin D3 hormone. Vitamin D is not found in most foods but it virtually influences every cell in your body so. Raising your vitamin D levels through sun exposure and decent light exposure is one of nature’s most potent cancer prevention strategies.

For patients with Crohn’s disease if several diet modifications and prescription medicines don’t work optimizing light and vitamin D may help the patient. Spending time outdoors in full sun on top of taking about 3000 IU vitamin D3 per day can help bowels function normally the lesions heal and energy to soar.

The only foods that contain Vitamin D are fatty fish and fish oils and beef liver-most irish people are not eating any of those! A little in eggs, fortified cereals, avonmore supermilk, cheese and beef liver. So we need sunlight!

If you are obese, the more vitamin D you require.

The older we get, after the age of 50 people, our conversion of UVB radiation to vitamin D also gets weaker.

Your skin cant make Vitamin D through the car window.

Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is not the best way to get vitamin D into our body, sun exposure is.

If you’re living in Ireland, your not getting enough sun exposure! We only get enough UVB from the sun for about 3 months of the year the rest of the time the UVB that penetrates our atmosphere isn’t sufficient to produce enough vitamin D in the skin, even if you stayed outside without any clothes on for the full day! This is why I like using infrared and near infrared light at home on dull days for adequate light exposure to power the mitochondria in our cells to help our bodies function better. The other challenge we have is that we’re inside most of the time working jobs during the daylight hours.

If you are going on 2 weeks sun holiday in winter AND 2 weeks in the summer then you MAY be getting enough Vitamin D from the sun. But most Irish don’t have this many holidays. To check get a blood test in the doctors annually. Just call and book it with the practice nurse.

Most Irish people are misled to think that if they expose their forearms and face to the sun for a few minutes a day that they will make enough vitamin D for their bodies functions. For optimal production of Vitamin D we need to have about 50% of our skin uncovered to the hot sun 3 days a week for at least 30 mins. This means full legs, your full back, or face down to stomach etc.

The higher the altitude, the greater the intensity of sunlight and the less time you need out in the sun to make vitamin D.

Your location on the earth affects the height of the sun in the sky. The ozone layer filters UVB rays. Where the ozone layer is thin in parts of the world you can produce your daily Vitamin D in just a few minutes! We have a reasonable ozone layer here in ireland.

Vitamin D production also depends on the season, so when the sun is lower than 50 degrees in the horizon the longer you need to spend out in the sun to make the same amount as you would in summer.

The ideal time for producing Vitamin D is when the sun is highest in the sky between 12 noon and 3:00 PM so sunbathing for half an hour at this time is optimal as long as we don’t burn ourselves!

You don’t have to get very tanned, sore or burnt to make Vitamin D just a little pink is fine. Burning the skin will age it.

Darker skinned folk have more melanin in their skin so that will take them more time to produce vitamin D and to maintain optimal vitamin D levels whereas a very white porcelain skin, like very fair Irish skins will need a lot less time to make the required amount of vitamin D.

I believe in the benefits of getting real sun on our skins to make Vitamin D. I never put sun cream on my children’s legs or arms for their first hour in the sun if it’s around the 20-25 degrees, to allow their bodies to make some natural vitamin D. We know the face is too of a small surface area for Vitamin D production so I always put SPF 50 on their faces before we leave the house. Especially from April onwards even a 15 degree those very bright sunny days can be enough to burn the facial skin!

If your vitamin D level is very low you may want to start a supplement. Making sure Vitamin K2 is added into the Vitamin D3 supplement is essential for the Vitamin D3 to work! 3000ius a day is a good place to start if levels are low. Most supplement companies are now realizing this and including vitamin K2 in their supplementation.

Personally I prefer vitamin D3 sprays like the Better You one or drops instead of tablets or capsules due to the fact that most people have poor digestion and a shortage of stomach acid and digesting tablets and all their associated chemicals and binders makes vitamin D3 absorption and assimilation a lot more difficult for the body. Never mind the extra pressure on ones liver breaking down all these tablets!

SO get out in the sun anytime you can when the sun appears this summer. If nothing else sunlight boosts our mood.

Fiona xx