Vitamin D and Sunshine

Direct Sunlight is  double-edged sword. When the body is exposed to it, sunlight produces Vitamin D, an important nutrient to the body. Vitamin D helps maintain strong bones, help muscles move and nerves carry messages. Vitamin D also helps the body fight off bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D and calcium help protect against osteoporosis. A new recently published study shows it may also help fight Alzheimer’s.  Without it, bones become soft, thin and brittle; it’s called rickets in children.

Sun Exposure. The other side of the equation is if your skin is exposed to too much sun, you can develop skin cancer. Casual sun exposure needs to be minimal; it’s best to wear sun protection even though Vitamin D production is limited and/or prohibited with sunscreen.

Vitamin D and Food. It naturally occurs in very few foods. According to the National Institutes of Health, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are good choices. Beef  liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts. Vitamin D is also found in mushrooms.  Almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with Vitamin D although foods made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream, are usually not fortified. Vitamin D is added to other foods such as cereal, orange juice and yogurt. You need to check the label for information. Vitamin D is also available through supplements.

Recommended Dosage. How much Vitamin D do you need? According to the National Institutes of Health the recommended amount for Vitamin D is:
Age                                                               Recommended Amount
Birth to 12 months                                     400 IU
Children 1–13 years                                  600 IU
Teens 14–18 years                                    600 IU
Adults 19–70 years                                  600 IU
Adults 71 years and older                        800 IU
Pregnant and breastfeeding women     600 IU

Interactions. If you are taking any medication or even supplements, you should check with your primary physician before starting Vitamin D; as your situation may vary from the general guidelines. Vitamin D can interfere with certain supplements and drugs such as steroids and drugs to control epileptic seizures. Toxic reaction almost always occurs from overuse of supplements. Excessive sun exposure doesn’t cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces. But again, I recommend sunscreen to protect your skin from exposure. I also want to mention that if you do have sun damage, we also offer peels to minimize discoloration and damage both medically and cosmetically.

I hope you will find this discussion about Vitamin D helpful. Use sunscreen to protect yourself but also make sure you include this vital nutrient in your diet.

About Christine Brown, M.D.

Dr. Christine Brown operates a leading dermatology practice in Dallas, Texas. She understands the importance of good skin care and is committed to providing you with high-quality care in a pleasant and professional atmosphere. Services include clinical and cosmetic dermatology.
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