Can the Lack of Vitamin D Affect Your Health?

Approximately one billion people throughout the world are deficient in vitamin D, a nutrient that is much needed by the body. Among the many health benefits that vitamin D offers are: simulation of the pancreas for insulin production, immune system regulation and prevention of up to 25 different chronic diseases. Also, according to Dr. Michael F. Holick, head of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, "Activated vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth."

Lack of vitamin D can affect the absorption of other important nutrients, namely dietary calcium and phosphorus. This influences bone mineral density which is related to osteoporosis and fractures in adults. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to a greater risk for type I diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, ovaries and prostate.

While it has been proven that UV rays can cause skin cancer, total blockage from the sun's rays with the use of sunscreen can be just as harmful - if not more. Because sunscreen completely blocks the absorption of valuable vitamin D through the skin, the body becomes more vulnerable to the many types of chronic disease mentioned above. Also, sunscreen contains ingredients that are absorbed through the skin and can be toxic.

Dangerous Ingredients

TEA, DEA and MEA are chemicals found in many sunscreen products that can cause kidney and liver cancer. Other ingredients known to cause cancer are FD & C color pigments, nitrosating agents, lanolin, mineral oil and talc.

In addition to cancer, the use of sunscreen can cause a number of other health-related issues like allergic reaction; irritation to the eyes, throat and skin; headaches, dizziness and occasional vomiting.

Recommended Amounts for Vitamin D

Currently, the recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults through the National Institutes of Health is 600 IU. Many experts including Dr. Holick recommend an increase in daily vitamin D to 1000 IU for optimum health. Unless one is eating oily fish on a daily basis, it is next to impossible to obtain these amounts without exposure to the sun.

Sunlight is far and away the best source of vitamin D for most people. Regular exposure can stimulate the production of vitamin D through human skin to exceed daily needs. Most experts agree that 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun per day is enough.

For those who intend to spend more than 15 minutes in the sun, the safest form of sunscreen might be a hat and a shirt. However, there are products on the market that contain natural sun-blocking ingredients in place of chemicals.

Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are minerals proven to be effective in blocking UVA and UVB rays, and many products contain natural castor oil for hydration of the skin in place of chemical hydrators. Do your homework, and read labels to find a sunscreen product that is right for you.

Do you currently take a Vitamin D supplement?


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