The New Recommendations for Sun Exposure

Coming from a dermatologist this statement may be surprising, but spending a little time in the sun sans SPF can be a good thing.

According to one study, up to three-quarters of Americans are vitamin D deficient, likely due to increased use of sunscreens. Why? Because the sun's rays trigger the body to produce vitamin D,
which an increasing body of research suggests can reduce the risk of
certain cancers, protect the heart, and even decrease your chances of
catching a cold.

Coming from a dermatologist this statement may be surprising, but spending a little time in the sun sans SPF can be a good thing. 

A study published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that melanoma patients with higher levels of vitamin D in their systems had thinner, less severe--and therefore less deadly--melanoma lesions than those who had low levels of vitamin D.

Other studies suggest that vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis and breast and colorectal cancers.

Are you at risk of D deficiency?

Getting sufficient vitamin D is particularly important during winter, when skies over much of the country are cold and gray. And for those with darker skin tones, increased melanin makes it harder for you to synthesize vitamin D from the sun anytime of year.

The only way to know if you have a deficiency is to get a blood
test. If your insurance does not cover it, the cost is about $120. We
perform the test in our office, but your regular family physician can do the
test for you.

Is sunscreen unnecessary?

Of course, I'm not saying you should throw away your sunscreen! My new recommendations are to protect your face, neck and hands but let your legs and arms get about 15 minutes of sun. By avoiding the most intense midday light (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and limiting exposure to 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times a week, you can soak up some D-inducing rays without damaging your complexion.

Selective sun exposure should be done in combination with taking a 1,000 IU vitamin D supplement and eating plenty of vitamin D-rich foods, including mushrooms, enriched dairy products, salmon and cod liver oil. If your vitamin D levels are very low, your physician may prescribe even higher dose supplements. High levels of vitamin D can be toxic so please discuss this with your doctor at your annual check-up.

Wishing you great skin!



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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more
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