Sun Bathing is Good, Sun Burning is Bad

Not too long ago, Dr. Peter Osborne, author of No Grain, No Pain, gave a fascinating talk on vitamin D. Here are some of the highlights from that discussion:

• Bronzed individuals who live in a sunny climate can be severely vitamin D deficient. One of the biggest reasons for vitamin D deficiency has to do with people who are over-hygienic, i.e., too many showers.

• You’re not going to get much vitamin D from your diet – liver and mushrooms are two of the best sources, but other than that not much is present in food. Even if food is fortified with vitamin D, it’s usually the nonactive form of D2, which will not have any real hormonal impact, and the dosages are so low, it’s like “trying to spit on a forest fire!” You’re not going to have a significant impact on the body’s needs.

• We make vitamin D primarily from sunlight exposure. There’s a form of cholesterol on our skin that sits as an oil and when UV light hits that cholesterol, it converts it into vitamin D.

• The vitamin D that sits on our skin takes 16 hours to get absorbed into the bloodstream, and then it has to go to the liver and kidneys before being metabolized into its active form. There are many processes that have to happen, and you better have a healthy liver and kidney to make it happen!

• If you’re showering every day and you’re using soap on your body, you’re removing the oil on your skin and vitamin D along with it. That vitamin D is going right down the drain! So even with adequate sun exposure, vitamin D absorption may be compromised due to frequent showers and that’s one of the biggest reasons for vitamin D deficiency.

• The germ theory of disease has made everyone so afraid of germs that they forgot about balance. You don’t need to wash your hands a million times a day or take 2 showers every day – all of this can be contributing to disease, especially autoimmune disease.

• Vitamin D regulates the response of the immune system. It tells your immune cells to calm down if they’re out of control, or else the situation can become like “teenagers without parental guidance.” You can hinder that process if you’re too clean. It’s like a house party going on and all the furniture gets destroyed! That’s what type of internal damage that can occur with a vitamin D deficiency.

• You need 20-30 minutes of sunshine a day without the use of sunscreen. Any sunscreen with an SPF greater than 8 blocks vitamin D. Makeup is at least SPF 15 so ladies that wear makeup on their faces are blocking their primary source of vitamin D because the face is where you get the bulk of vitamin D in the winter when you are all covered up.

• A sun phobia still exists. Many people fear that sun exposure gives them cancer. That’s not true! Sun “burning” gives you cancer. It’s like saying water can cause you to drown so don’t drink it! You need sun exposure like you need water, just approach it with common sense. Stay out long enough to get some vitamin D exposure, but not long enough to burn. Common sense must prevail!

• Vitamin D is not even a vitamin, it’s a prohormone. It was misclassified. It has a tremendous regulatory impact in the body. One of its main functions involves muscle strength and growth. Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle loss and weakness, and keep in mind that muscle sets the metabolic rate of the body.

For Dr. Osborne’s full discussion on vitamin D, check out The Diabetes Summit. I highly recommend it.

Take-Home Message: Shower every other day or if you have to shower every day, then soap up only the “stinky” parts and let some of the oil on your skin sink in, especially the parts that get sunlight exposure. Also, make sure you shower in the morning before you are exposed to the sun. Don’t do it at night. Wait until the next day to give your body extra time to absorb the vitamin D while you sleep.

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