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Vitamin D - Why We Need It

Here at Crystal Rose Skin Clinic, I work with lots of ladies (and gents) who are concerned about sun damage to their skin. It’s not exactly new information that the sun’s rays can cause damage, whether it’s pigmentation spots and fine lines or something more serious. There have been mixed messages in the media about sun screen – although we haven’t seen much of the sun yet this spring, I always advise my skin care clients to use a good moisturiser with SPF every day, even if it’s chilly or overcast. That said, we do have a problem with vitamin D deficiency in this part of the world, so how can we balance protecting our skin with making sure we get enough sunlight to produce vitamin D – is it something we need to supplement? How does the body make vitamin D? It’s a complex process that begins when your skin absorbs UVB rays from sunlight. The liver and the kidneys also make a form of vitamin D. The amount you make is influenced by several things, including: .

  1. Location The further away from the Equator you live, the less UVB light reaches the earth's surface, especially during winter time. Short days and covering up with jumpers and long sleeves also limit UVB exposure.

  2. Air quality. Carbon particles in the air scatter and absorb the UVB rays, which reduces vitamin D production, but if you were living in a part of the world where there is a hole in the ozone layer, you would get more UVB and end up with higher vitamin D levels.

  3. Sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks out UVB light, which means that it should lower your vitamin D levels, but studies have shown that most people don’t really use enough of it to block all UVB light. A well-reported Australian study showed that there was absolutely no difference in vitamin D between adults randomly allocated to use sunscreen one summer and those who were given a placebo cream to use. Keep slapping on SPF sun screen!

  4. Skin colour. Darker-skinned people produce more melanin, a natural sun screen, which means that they usually need more UVB exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D.

If you’re worried that you might not be getting enough vitamin D, I recommend a visit to your doctor for a test. They’ll measure your levels and tell you if you need to supplement – high dose supplements are available reasonably cheaply from health food shops and pharmacies so it’s easily remedied. There are foods which can help, too: cod liver oil, salmon, swordfish, tinned tuna, cow’s liver, egg yolks and sardines. Unfortunately you would have to eat them most days to produce enough vitamin D! My sun skin care advice In the meantime, as the weather (hopefully) starts to warm up, it’s my advice to ramp up your sunscreen use too. UV rays can seriously damage your skin’s appearance, age you prematurely and in the worst-case scenario, even lead to skin cancer. Experts advise that we should try to expose skin to the sun for around 10-30 minutes a day without sunscreen, to maximise vitamin D - but NOT in the afternoon. This doesn’t include your face; your head and face produce a very small amount of vitamin D through sunlight exposure, so making sure that you use sunscreen on your face, neck, shoulders and head (if you don’t have full hair coverage) is vital to avoid sun damage or worse. Hats and sun glasses are also a good idea when you’re outside in sunlight. Start your daily routine with a good quality all-round summer skin care product containing a sun screen like the AlumierMD Sheer Hydration range – with SPF and lovely tinted moisturiser it’s one of my go-to recommendations for the sunnier months. If you’re worried about the effects sun-worshipping may already have had on your skin, come and talk to me and we can find the right treatment to reduce any damage that’s been caused and get your skin looking fabulously healthy again!

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