The Skin Vitamin Controversy

Your skin’s best source of vitamin D actually comes from within since your skin is capable of producing the vitamin. Our bodies benefit from having adequate levels of vitamin D; it’s a great antioxidant that helps with cell growth and repair. The benefits of vitamin D apply to skin cells themselves, so there’s a two-way relationship here: Healthy skin provides vitamin D to the body, and the presence of vitamin D in the skin is associated with healthy skin cells.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is needed by the body to create vitamin D. The number of UVB rays reaching the Earth’s surface varies because it’s partially blocked or reflected by the ozone layer, atmosphere and clouds. The amount of outdoor exposure required for people to create their daily need of vitamin D varies according to weather conditions in the upper atmosphere, altitude and the time of year. Also, not every person can synthesize vitamin D at the same rate. In ideal conditions, it might take 10 or 15 minutes to synthesize enough vitamin D.

The Flip Side

But there’s another problem and this is where the debate comes in. Although vitamin D is vital for health, and UVB is necessary for the production of the vitamin, UVB rays themselves are harmful. Many people assume they must spend lots of time in the sun to make the necessary amounts of vitamin D, but that will accelerate aging and can be dangerous. UVB rays also emit the rays that cause redness and sunburns. Excess UVB exposure, to the extent that burning occurs, is linked to skin aging as well as skin cancers.

Topical Solutions

So what should you do? What’s the best way of getting your daily dose of vitamin D? Once again, as in so many issues related to health, it’s all about balance. Whenever you’re outside, you should use a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30 (preferably with zinc oxide, too) such as Image Skincare Prevention + Daily Ultimate Protection Moisturizer ($40) to reduce the intensity of UV rays interacting with your skin cells. Also, avoid direct sun exposure and seek shade whenever possible. And please, don’t sunbathe.

Feeding Your Body

You can also obtain vitamin D through some foods. Yet vitamin D deficiency is becoming more prevalent: some estimates suggest the deficiency exists in upward of 50 percent of the population worldwide. I recommend that you measure your vitamin D content in a blood test. If the test reveals that your lifestyle, location, metabolism and skin sensitivity conspire to keep your vitamin D levels low, then take a raw-sourced vitamin D3 supplement every day. Do not try to address low vitamin D levels by spending more time in the sun.