Vitamin D, Sun and Skin – Dr. Acky Friedman
Vitamin D is a mystery nowadays. There is no agreement between medical personnel about the right quantity and the duration of required treatment in the case of a lack of this vitamin. Due to this, there are various instructions. The plethora of instructions may cause confusion for the consumer and patient. History may remind us of rickets disease, especially at the beginning of the 20th century. This disease caused many parents to expose their children to “sun baths.” The meaning was long unprotected and unlimited sun exposure, mostly in full nude, when the purpose was to allegedly improve the growth of bones. To date, we may still see cases of this disease in cold regions where exposure to sunshine is rare. In these cases, there are weak bones, and flaws in the development of bone structure. This results in difficulty and pain in walking, standing, etc. In many places, there is an attempt to try and fill the gap by over consumption of fish oil that is rich with vitamin D. In adults, a similar disease is caused by the same factors and results in similar symptoms.
Vitamin D, together with sunshine, builds good and strong bones. Due to the information that was collected over the past three decades about the damage of long and uncontrolled exposure to the sun, a question arises as to why, when, and in what quantity, we may expose ourselves to the sun to get vitamin D but not to cause aesthetic and medical skin damage?
Is there an optimal time for sun exposure?
From recent research it seems that there is a need to expose oneself for 15 minutes, especially in the warm hours 10:00-16:00 (when the radiation is maximal and the damages are impressive to the skin) in order to enjoy the impact of the sun on the function of vitamin D. On the other hand, it is obvious that exposure at this time and at that radiation level may be problematic due to skin aging and increased risk of future skin tumors. This research also shows that among adults, exposure to the sun does not necessarily create efficient Vitamin D as in youth, at the same exposure level. There is a difference between people at the same age group and between different age groups. In areas where the sun is abundant, lack of Vitamin D is found due to cultural clothing (the population of religious women in Israel and even the Bedouin population in tribes in Sinai).
The findings exemplify how much medicine isn’t mathematic and how important it is to personally customize medical instructions.
To summarize, controlled exposure to the sun is beneficial and there is a need to maintain a good level of Vitamin D, but at the same time, we should preserve our skin. We should always look to find the “golden path” for enjoying the best of both worlds.