Vitamin D: How To Get Your Dose Without Skipping Sunscreen

by Gio
how to get your vitamin D fix without skipping sunscreen

To wear sunscreen or not to wear sunscreen? This is the question.

If you don’t wear it, you’ll end up with deep wrinkles and dark spots. You’ll look older before your time. If you’re really unlucky, get cancer, too.

If you do wear it, you may not be getting your vitamin D fix, which is just as bad.

Getting enough vitamin D without exposing your skin to the sun unnecessarily is a tough balancing act. Worse, there are no clear guidelines for how to do it well.

So, I’ll just tell you what I do:

What The Heck Is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that performs many important jobs in your body:

  • It maintains healthy calcium levels, preventing rickets and osteoporosis
  • It keeps your teeth healthy
  • It helps prevent cancer
  • May have a role in metabolic syndrome and heart disease

A deficiency in vitamin D is serious business. Unfortunately, about 32% of US adults don’t have enough of this vitamin!

That’s because it’s hard to get. There are only a few foods that are rich in vitamin D:

  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish, including salmon, sardines, herring, tuna and mackerel
  • Liver
  • Specially fortified foods

This usually accounts only for little more than 10% of your vitamin D requirements! You need to get the rest either through a supplement or the sun.

Like it or not, the sun is the best, most effective way to get your vitamin D fix. Your skin naturally produces this vitamin when exposed to UVB rays.

The amount it produces depends on where you live, what time of the day or year it is and your skin colour. If you live in sunny California, for example, your body will produce all the vitamin D you need a lot faster than if you’re stuck in rainy London.

The Problem With Getting Your Vitamin D Fix From The Sun

I understand that for some of you getting your vitamin D fix from the sun is the only option. But it could also be a dangerous one.

As you now know, UVB rays are responsible for making vitamin D. They’re the same rays that give you sunburns. If you get more than 5 severe sunburns in your life, your risk of skin cancer more than doubles!

Besides, UV rays are not only UVB rays. If you don’t wear sunscreen, your skin will be hit by UVA rays as well. Those cause premature wrinkles and dark spots and contribute to skin cancer.

Skipping sunscreen is not an option, ladies!

Related: What’s The Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?

How Much Does Sunscreen Affect Vitamin D?

So, we can’t do without sunscreen. But, how much does sunscreen affect vitamin D?

After all, sunscreen prevent UVB rays from hitting your skin, so it makes sense it stops the production of vitamin D in its tracks.

Under very strictly controlled conditions, this is exactly what happens. But IRL (in real life)? Not happening. A 2009 study has found that its [sunscreen’s] “normal usage does not generally result in vitamin D insufficiency.”

How is this possible? There are several reasons for this:

  1. No sunscreen blocks 100% UVB rays: SPF 30, for example, blocks 97%, SPF 50 blocks 98% and SPF 100 blocks 99%. 
  2. You don’t apply enough: most of us don’t apply 1/4 of a teaspoon on the face or a small shot glass on the body every day, let alone reapply it every 2 hours.
  3. You often miss a spot of two: like your ears, your scalp or between your fingers. You may think these patches are small but they’re enough to provide you with all the vitamin D you need.

Why risk going without sunscreen when you can still get your vitamin D fix with it?

Related: Do Higher SPFs Provide Better Sun Protection?

How To Get Your Vitamin D Fix From The Sun Safely

Chances are you already do. See above.

But, what if you think you have a vitamin D deficiency? The first step is to go to your doctor and have your levels of vitamin D checked. No point in fixing something before you know it’s broken.

If you’re deficient, you need to take into consideration all the factors that go into the production of vitamin D, such as where you live and what time of the year it is.

Here in the UK where the weather is crap for most of the year, for example, the NHS recommends that almost everyone take a vitamin D supplement.

If you live on a tropical island, a few minutes of unprotected sun exposure a week may do the trick.

I know, it’s a bit confusing. Sadly, there aren’t universal guidelines to follow. Just consult your doctor and use common sense. If you can, pop a supplement instead.

The Bottom Line

Chances are that you’re still getting enough vitamin D from the sun even if you religiously wear sunscreen. If in doubt, consult your doctor and come up with a safe game plan to up your level of vitamin D (hint: it’s usually a supplement).

Are you getting enough vitamin D or are you deficient? Share your experience in the comments below.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.


Powered by ConvertKit

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

6 comments

Minn July 25, 2017 - 8:05 pm

Thank you for sharing that study. I wasn’t sure wether there are negative effects on vit D or not.

Reply
Gio July 28, 2017 - 4:40 pm

Minn, my pleasure. 🙂

Reply
emily August 8, 2017 - 4:26 pm

Hi, thanks for your article. I am in the UK but still wear an SPF every day. I have just started to take Vit D with calcium as their is a history of brittle bones in my family plus I am getting older (50 next year). Thank you for your post.

Emily
http://www.beautyboo44.co.uk

Reply
Gio August 12, 2017 - 7:33 am

Emily, you’re welcome. It’s great that now we have ways to up our vitamin D intake without compromising our skin, isn’t it?

Reply
emily August 15, 2017 - 1:33 pm

Yes totally agree, and again thanks for sharing.

Emily

Reply
Gio August 19, 2017 - 9:29 pm

My pleasure!

Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.