Excessive use of sunblock can lead to vitamin D deficiency

A review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association warned that excessive use of sunblock can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. Researchers stated that the overuse of sunscreen contributed to the nearly one billion people worldwide who are deficient in the vitamin. Kim Pfotenhauer, a researcher of the study and assistant professor at Touro University said on ScienceDaily.com, “People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.”

She further expounded by stating that sunscreens that are above SPF 15 decreased vitamin D3 production by 99 percent. “While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D,” Dr. Pfotenhauer added.

These strategies, Dr. Pfotenhauer said, can be as easy and simple as spending five to 30 minutes in midday sun twice per week without sunblock. This should be adjusted accordingly to your geographic location and skin pigmentation — people with lighter skin tend to synthesize more vitamin D than those with darker tones. This could explain why 95 percent of African American adults have a vitamin D deficiency, noted the researchers. Another recommendation would be to increase the intake of vitamin D supplements.

“You don’t need to go sunbathing at the beach to get the benefits,” wrote Dr. Pfotenhauer. “A simple walk with [your] arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.”

Here comes the sun: Soak up the sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is synthesized by the body when it is exposed to sunlight. More a hormone than a vitamin, it is necessary for a variety of essential bodily functions, including cell growth, neuromuscular function, and inflammation reduction. Proper vitamin D intake is important for calcium regulation, meaning that it is crucial for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Ample vitamin D levels are also linked to the prevention of several conditions such as Types 1 and 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

People who are of a darker skin color or those living in colder climates are more at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. A comprehensive health guide released by Patient.co.uk states that vitamin D deficiency among British adults is very common, with one in every six individuals lacking the vitamin. Unfortunately, most people do not even know they are deficient until it becomes severe. Among adults, a vitamin D deficiency can be suspected if the person constantly complains of a general malaise along with vague aches and pains around the body. In more critical cases, people can exhibit difficulties standing up or climbing stairs. This is known as osteomalacia which is characterized by a “waddling” walk and describes a worrisome softening of the bones caused by demineralization and depletion of calcium. Osteomalacia is linked to a vitamin D deficiency. (Related: The 10 symptoms of vitamin D deficiency you need to recognize.)

The prognosis for a vitamin D deficiency, however, is usually excellent. People who lack the vitamin can usually return to normal levels through simple lifestyle changes. Health professionals do say though that it can take time for the bones to recover and pain symptoms to improve.

Currently, vitamin D levels are being increasingly linked to other diseases and illnesses. “Science has been trying to find a one-to-one correspondence between vitamin D levels and specific diseases,” said Dr. Pfotenhauer. “Given vitamin D’s ubiquitous role in the body, I believe sufficient vitamin D is more about overall health. Our job as osteopathic physicians is to recognize those patients that need to be tested and treat them accordingly.”

You can learn more about preventive options when you visit Prevention.news.

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VitaShine-D3.com [PDF]

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