Vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is acknowledged as a key nutrient for your health, keeping bones strong as well as helping with muscle and immune functions.

But it seems people all over the world are really not getting enough, so a vitamin D supplement is now extremely popular! 

Vitamin D has raised its profile considerably during the Covid-19 pandemics and although it is not a cure, it's essential for helping your body boost its defence systems.

All our bodies need to do to make sufficient Vitamin D, it to make sure you get time to spend outdoors in the sunlight for the very best source of Vitamin D you can get. It will help boost your immune system and what’s more, its FREE! No prescription required.

Estimates show us that about 25 % of Americans and about 40 % of Europeans are deficient in vitamin D.  It's also seen as an issue in the sunny Middle East, Asia, and even sun loving Australia. 

As a relatively new scientific research subject, Vitamin D has been debated widely for the last decade. There is still conflicting advice offered on what levels are good for optimal health, what levels define a deficiency, and even if there are any benefits at all from supplements.

In Dec 2020, over 100 medical doctors, scientists and leading authorities appealed for an immediate widespread increase in Vitamin D intakes to help combat COVID-19. They refer to scientific evidence* indicating how vitamin D reduces COVID-19 infections & deaths.

Conversely, they stated that low levels of Vitamin D in patients has been seen to promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths.  

In addition this, Dr. Arielle Levitan, an internist, and Dr. Romy Block, an endocrinologist based in Chicago, revealed results from a study led by Northwestern University, that show a strong correlation between severe Vitamin D deficiency and death rates in COVID-19 patients.

The evidence was comprehensively reviewed (188 papers) through mid-June [Benskin ‘20] & more recent publications are increasingly compelling [Merzon et al ‘20Kaufman et al ‘20Castillo et al ‘20]. (See also [Jungreis & Kellis ‘20] for deeper analysis of Castillo et al’s RCT results.)

Vitamin D Sunshine vitamin vs Sunscreen 

Vitamin D is a unique ‘vitamin’ required by our body, although it’s more accurately described as a hormone. The best source is the sun, through the cholesterol in your skin when exposed to the sunlight. 

Maybe this explains a bit about why it's remained relatively unknown or under-researched for so long, as the big pharmaceuticals can't really sell sunlight to us?

However, they can sell sunscreen, and so for a number of decades now we have all been told to avoid this wonderful resource of health and block out the sun's rays. 

But it's not all as easy as just stopping the use of sunscreens and exposing yourself to the sun's rays to take advantage of this valuable nutrient.

Most importantly, make sure not to get sunburnt, as this will defeat the purpose of uplifting your immune support systems. 

Understanding more about Vitamin D and how to balance the use of sunscreen with exposure to the sun will help. 

Vitamin D Sunshine vitamin Truths

The following highlights some of the truths around Vitamin D, sunlight and our health:

  • Vitamin D3 is created through your skin by exposure to UVB rays from either natural sunshine or UVB lamps (not UVA, which is contained in sunshine as well as most tanning bed lamps)
  • UVB rays are also weakest in the morning and evening and strongest when most direct. ie midday and unfiltered by cloud, smog, glass or such
  • UVB rays weaken the further you are from the equator. ie. they are no longer as direct
  • To generate the same amount of vitamin D, dark skin pigmentation can require up to 20 - 30 times more exposure to sunlight than fair skin pigmentation. 
  • The health benefits obtained from vitamin D are numerous and include building stronger bones and nervous systems, as well as helping to prevent such health complaints as osteoporosis, depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity
  • It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D3 in your body from sunlight exposure. Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs. However, overdoing the sunlight exposure can result in sunburn, which is your natural body's mechanism to tell you to get out  of the sun and obviously this is not a good idea!
  • There are some good sources of vitamin D2 to be found in food and supplements but the best source of vitamin D3 is through sunlight
  • If you wish to rebuild your Vitamin D levels, you cannot do this overnight. Months of vitamin D supplementation as well as regulated sunlight exposure may be required, so make sure to seek medical advice

Have a question yourself?

Do you have a question or perhaps wish to make a comment or even tell a story about an experience with sunscreen? Please share it! Others will benefit and may join the conversation.