A little over a year ago I discovered a spot behind my ear. That spot turned out to be basal cell carcinoma. It’s probably the most common form of skin cancer. Though if you are going to have to get skin cancer this would be the one. It’s fairly easily treated and generally doesn’t spread. So for me it was really a non event.
Still Tuesday I had a follow-up with my dermatologist. Well, only minutes into my visit the doctor notice a mild tan line on my legs. And so it started, my scolding. ‘YOUR NOT USING SUN SCREEN.’ Then she spied my arms. Much darker tan lines. The Dr.’s Voice went up now.
This brings me to the point of this post. How do you get vitamin D? As most of us know all you need to do to get a little vitamin D is get out in the sun. Ah there it is, the dermatologist says stay out of the sun and if you do get in it, use sun screen. Well with all of those restrictions, no vitamin D.
What to do? Where can I get it?
Vitamin D3 Supplements
Fortified Dairy Products
Tofu (Firm, Lite)
Cod Liver Oil
Oily Fish (Trout, cooked)
Pork (Extra Lean Ham)
Eggs (Hard Boiled)
Dairy Alternatives (Plain Soy Yogurt)
But really is getting vitamin D this way the same as getting it via a drop of sunshine? Is that all the sun gives you? In a Medical New Today article published May 8, 2013 Scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the UK found that when sunlight touches our skin, a compound called nitric oxide is released into our blood vessels, that helps lower blood pressure, which can reduce heart attacks and strokes. There have also been suggestions that exposure to the sun can help prevent infectious disease. What is more, nitric oxide is also a precursor to chemical to the feel good brain chemical serotonin.
Interestingly in the UK study it was found that the body’s production of nitric oxide is separate from production of vitamin D.
In fact, scientists are discovering that even taking the skin-cancer risk fully into account a good dose of sunshine is statistically going to make us live longer, healthier and happier lives. In March 2016 investigators, from the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, concluded that avoiding the sun is actually as bad for you as smoking.
Still it is important to find a balance between too much or not enough sunlight. There is a limit to the amount of light that is beneficial. After a certain point more sun exposure will not produce more vitamin D but will instead result in skin damage that could result in cancer. The amount of sun light beneficial differs depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to age, and skin pigmentation.
Australia, the skin cancer capital of the world, has done a huge amount of work to research the benefits and dangers of sun exposure. Some good guidelines can be found on their National Cancer Control Policy web site.
Australia – National Cancer Control Policy
Medical News Today – Sun Exposure May Outweigh Risks Say Scientists
The Daily Mail – How Sunshine cuts blood pressure . . . .
The Conversion – Secret to health benefits of sunshine . . . .
NIH – Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health