Using sunscreen every day helps lower the risk of developing certain skin conditions and cancers. But many traditional sunscreens block sun exposure to such an extent that they also prevent our bodies from naturally producing vitamin D, which is essential to our health. This leads to a curious conundrum: Which is more important? An adequate dose of natural vitamin D, or protection from the sun's UV rays? As it turns out, with the development of a new sunscreen, we might not have to choose one over the other, anymore.
According to CBS in Boston, Dr. Michael F. Holick, an endocrinologist at Boston University School of Medicine, has developed a sunscreen designed to block UV rays but, at the same time, allow those rays that help produce vitamin D to make it through to the skin. This new SPF 30 sunscreen, to be marketed under the name Solar D, has been approved by the FDA. It is expected to have a price comparable to traditional sunscreens and should be available in stores sometime in the spring of 2016.
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are both essential to building strong bones. Without vitamin D, you could eat foods high in these minerals but still receive little benefit because your body would not be able to effectively absorb them.
Besides strong bones, The Vitamin D Council indicates that vitamin D may help with many other body functions, including:
Vitamin D deficiencies, meanwhile, have been linked to some types of cancer, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disorders.
How do I know if I am vitamin D deficient?
If you are deficient in vitamin D, you might feel fatigued or have aches and pains. Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain. You might also notice you are getting more frequent infections. However, not everyone experiences symptoms from a vitamin D deficiency. Some people only realize it after they have a blood test and are informed of the condition by their doctor.
How do I make sure I am getting enough vitamin D?Unlike other vitamins and minerals, you can’t adjust your diet to get more vitamin D. There are only two ways to boost your vitamin D intake: through exposure to sunlight, or through supplements. Some experts indicate that 10 minutes in the sunlight during the summer can provide you with adequate levels of vitamin D. (Again, traditional sunscreens blocks that process, which is why the new sunscreen could be so helpful.)
If you still feel you aren’t getting enough sunlight, taking supplements, especially vitamin D3, will help ensure that you're receiving enough vitamin D. If you have questions on how much vitamin D you should be taking in supplement form, it's always best to consult with your doctor.
Am I deficient in vitamin D?: Vitamin D Council
How do I get the vitamin D my body needs?: Vitamin D Council
The role of vitamin D in your health: Cleveland Clinic
Vitamin D-Health Professional Fact Sheet: National Institutes of Health
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD,Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on twitter @eileenmbaileyand on Facebook at eileenmbailey.