I Have Low Vitamin D Levels. Should I Tan to Increase Them?
If you have low vitamin D levels you may wondering the best method to increase them.
First let’s explore why Vitamin D is important for your body. “Vitamin D has long been known to be essential for bone health but recent studies have shown it may also play a role in protecting against colds, fighting depression, and reducing the risk of cancer, stroke and diabetes,” states Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. You can see why your doctor is interested in making sure you have adequate Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin with the help of sunlight. Here, the skin converts cholesterol into Vitamin D3 (also know as cholecalciferol) in the presence of ultraviolet light.
“Yes, the body can make Vitamin D from sunlight, but this approach comes with significant risks,” says Dr. Mamelak. Dr. Mamelak is, of course, referring to the fact that over 90% of skin cancers can be attributed to over exposure to ultraviolet light. And for those individuals who are convince that their bikini is the best way to healthy living, Dr. Mamelak notes some interesting scientific findings. “There are studies that suggest you only need to expose the back of your hands to mid-day sun for 10-15 minutes a few times a week to achieve therapeutic Vitamin D levels.”
Still, replenishing Vitamin D levels through daily unplanned sun exposures can be difficult if you live in a location with minimal sun in the winter or at a high latitude. In addition, older skin is not as efficient. This is still not a reason to tan. There are other safer methods available that will allow you to know exactly how much Vitamin D your body is getting.
Diet is one safe and effective way to get Vitamin D. “Make sure you are purchasing foods that are fortified with Vitamin D. Some examples are milk, orange juice, yogurt, and cereal,” Dr. Mamelak suggests. Read the labels of the products you currently purchase to see if they are Vitamin D fortified. If not, consider purchasing brands that are. Also including certain types of food in your diet will increase your Vitamin D intake. Fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna are high in Vitamin D and also have the benefit of being heart healthy with Omega 3 fatty acids. Egg yolks are also high in Vitamin D.
But in the end, the simplest way to ensure you are getting enough Vitamin D is to take a Vitamin D supplement. You can take it all in one dose, once every day.
Vitamin D is important for our well being. But putting your skin and body at risk for cancer is no way to stay healthy.