Study finds sunscreen use to blame for vitamin D deficiency

Of all the things you can do to jeopardize your health, I bet you’ll never guess what some new research has found could put you at risk for a whole host of diseases and illnesses.

It’s not about never doing any exercise or even eating a daily diet of fast food.

Nope! Researchers pin the blame on the now routine practice of slathering on sunscreen before daring to set foot outside — something we’ve been told repeatedly needs to be done to keep from getting skin cancer.

I know someone who won’t go out to get her mail before she’s covered in SPF 50!

Well, guess what? That’s wrong, wrong and just plain wrong.

While you don’t want to spend a day at the pool or an afternoon on the links without some kind of protection, what this research revealed is that using sunscreen in this manner may be causing more problems than it’s preventing.

Let the sunshine in!

What the two osteopathic physicians who led an extensive review of clinical studies on the topic have concluded is that a deficiency in vitamin D (which is a very common problem) appears to be due in large part to excessive sunscreen use.

And it’s not hard to see how that can happen when using one with just an SPF of 15 can block your body’s production of D by almost 100 percent!

But taking advantage of the sun’s rays isn’t very hard to do.

“You don’t need to go sunbathing at the beach to get the benefits,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer, from Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine. In fact, she says, “a simple walk with arms and legs exposed is enough for most people.” And that sun exposure only has to be from 5 to 30 minutes during midday at least twice a week.

She added that even though this sunshine vitamin is found in many foods, including fatty fish, cheese and eggs, people with health problems that include kidney, Crohn’s and celiac diseases and type 2 diabetes have a decreased ability to metabolize D from what they eat.

And while we know that making sure our D levels are up to par can be vital for bone health, maintaining a strong immune system and in providing protection against diabetes, MS and cancer, other research has discovered some additional reasons to make sure you’re getting your D’s worth.

Keeping your brain sharp is a good one. An international team that published the results of a study last year that found if your D levels are low, you’re twice as likely to have problems with memory, language, thinking and judgement.

Research done at Queen Mary University of London also found that simply small doses of vitamin D, in the 25 to 50 microgram range, can cut the risk of a bad asthma attack in half.

But if you’re worried about skin cancer with any amount of sun exposure, there’s this: Over a decade ago a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet revealed that people who work outdoors have a “decreased risk of melanoma,” and that sunlight has a “protective effect.”

Of course, you don’t want to get sunburn, which isn’t safe, either. The key is to get just enough sun exposure to do the job without going overboard.

While the researchers in this new study reported that simply twice a week was sufficient, other experts have said that daily exposure is even better, with the prime time to get your “day in the sun” being from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. for around 10 to 20 minutes.

Of course, there are some times, like that day at the beach, when you do need to apply sunscreen. HSI panel member Dr. Mark Stengler recommends looking for an all-natural one, made from “micronized, but non-nano (having super tiny particles that can penetrate the skin) zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.”

And because it’s difficult to tell how much D your body is making, Dr. Stengler also recommends taking a vitamin D supplement that’s between 2,000 and 5,000 IU a day.

“Widespread vitamin D deficiency likely due to sunscreen use, increase of chronic diseases, review finds” American Osteopathic Association, May 1, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com