We all know two things when it comes to our skin: we should never spend too long out in the sun because of the risk of skin cancer and we need sunlight to get enough vitamin D. These two facts may seem like they oppose each other directly. How on earth do you get enough sun without getting too much? And how does vitamin D benefit me?
This itchy skin disorder shows itself as a nasty rash that is dry, rough and very irritating. It is thought to be caused by an immune system dysfunction, but doctors really don’t know how it happens or how to treat it. Some studies have shown that vitamin D can be effective in its treatment whether the vitamin comes from direct sunlight or a supplement.
A deficiency in vitamin D can cause your skin to sweat and is considered to be one of the first signs. In fact this is how it is diagnosed in babies. Sweating can cause your skin to become dry and irritated so upping your vitamin D could help.
Vitamin D is thought to reduce inflammation on your skin and therefore could help with acne. Due to its action on your blood insulin response, your acne breakouts could be vastly improved too. This lowering of inflammation is going to help with general skin health too.
Vitamin D is also thought to help with fine lines and wrinkles – mostly through its ability to act as an antioxidant. This helps your body to fight off free-radicals which are thought to cause lines on our skin and the general deterioration that comes as we get older.
So, should I get more sun on my skin?
It might be tempting to simply lie out in the sun and soak it up to improve the look and feel of your skin. But this may backfire and may not even get you the results you want.
A study released this month in The Endocrine Society has indicated that as your skin is exposed to more sunlight and begins to tan, it actually begins to block the amount of vitamin D that it can synthesise. So even if you get plenty of sun, it may not be giving you the vitamin D boost that you need. The research appears to show that we produce the most vitamin D when our skin is paler – making it clear that short bursts of sunlight or supplements are best for preventing skin cancer and for improving our vitamin D uptake.
You can get vitamin D safely by doing the following:
- Spend no more than 20 to 30 minutes in the sun each day, but expose your arms and face to absorb as much of the radiation as possible. Only do this in the morning and not when the sun is at its hottest.
- Use sunscreen at other times if you are outdoors.
- Avoid getting a tan.
- Try a vitamin D supplement especially during the winter and eat foods rich in vitamin D such as oily fish and vegetables.
So enjoy the sun, but at the same time be aware of the potential consequences.