Getting Enough Vitamin D Without Sunburn
The human body requires vitamin D in order to have an optimal level of skin cell growth and renewal. This so-called, "sunshine vitamin" is delivered to us when we are exposed to the sun's UV radiation. It can also come from certain foods and supplements and even be applied topically.
What Vitamin D Does for Your Body
Vitamin D has a number of functions in the body. It regulates how calcium and phosphorus are absorbed, which assures normal development of your bones and your teeth, helping to ward off osteoporosis and other soft and fragile bone diseases. In addition, it helps to regulate the immune system, which builds your resistance against disease and infection and helps to fight off both. Furthermore, it supports the health of your brain, regulates insulin and can help diabetics manage their disease, helps with lung and cardiovascular functions, and might help fight off certain cancers. (Source) Vitamin D helps to fight depression and it helps with weight loss as well as the skin's function. Here is how vitamin D, which is not really a vitamin but actually a pro-hormone, works.
How Vitamin D Helps Your Skin
Vitamin D is fat-soluble. In the function of calcitriol, it crosses into the phospholipid membranes of cells and into their nucleus where it binds with vitamin D receptors. Those receptors turn on and off cell functions in the presence, or lack of, steroid hormones. They are also connected to both cell proliferation and differentiation and immune functionalities, which are key to your skin's health. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and serves as defense against many pathogens in the environment. It also loses and replaces up to 40,000 cells every single minute. That cell turnover requires vitamin D in the cell replacement, or renewal process. Skin cell renewal happens due to cells called keratinocytes, which make up the bulk of the epidermis layer. These cells divide and differentiate and are continually working to provide new skin cells. Unfortunately when someone has a vitamin D deficiency they do not work as efficiently. When those cells' function is not at peak they fail to create the waterproof barrier in your epidermis which keeps your skin moist and soft. In that case the skin becomes thinner and more delicate and starts to sag because it does not have adequate support. The lack of moisture retention causes wrinkles and dry skin. When this happens your skin looks aged and unhealthy. Besides helping your skin, the vitamin D that is produced there is also used by the rest of your body. It is taken up and distributed through your body by your cells. According to the Vitamin D Council: Large amounts of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are made in your skin when you expose all of your body to summer sun. This happens very quickly; around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. This could be just 15 minutes for a very fair skinned person, yet a couple of hours or more for a dark skinned person. You don't need to tan or to burn your skin in order to get the vitamin D you need. Exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day. In fact, your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D in just a little under the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. You make the most vitamin D when you expose a large area of your skin, such as your back, rather than a small area such as your face or arms. As you age your skin loses its ability to produce vitamin D by as much as 75%. (Source). This does not mean that you should get 75% more sun. In fact, the sun is the biggest culprit in damage to the skin and can cause deadly skin cancers. For that reason it is important to protect yourself from the sun's UV rays by wearing a full spectrum sunscreen. (Source).
Getting Enough Vitamin DWithout eating a diet high in vitamin D or taking supplements, and adding vitamin D topically as part of your daily skincare routine, you are likely to suffer premature aging of your skin as well as symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Those symptoms can include:
- Getting sick or infected more often
- Painful bones and back
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks