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Vitamin D: Sun or Supplements?

This is an important summer reminder that while supplementing with a high-quality, sublinqual Vitamin D3 spray is essential, budgeting some time for some unprotected, full-body sun exposure can be very beneficial to your overall health and performance, too.  In fact, recent studies imply that sun exposure is the best (although not always viable) option; taking even the most effective of vitamin D3 supplements cannot fully replace the benefits of real sun exposure. 

Dr. Prue Hart of the University of Western Australia makes these points in a recent paper (Hart PH. Vitamin D Supplementation, Moderate Sun Exposure, and Control of Immune Diseases. Discov Med. 2012 Jun;13 (73): 397-404).  She concludes that, “It is possible that moderate sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation may be complementary for maximal control of immune-driven diseases.”

She also emphasizes that over the past two decades, world-wide vitamin D levels have fallen about twenty percent while the incidence of immune system diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and asthma have all significantly increased.  Dr. Hart cites additional evidence which suggests....

that vitamin D3 is crucial for optimal brain function.  And that the rising incidence of autism is strongly linked to vitamin D3 deficiencies. 

While its not always possible or practical to depend on the sun for year-round vitamin D support, you can still benefit from even the occasional or intermittent session of full-sun when larger body surface areas are exposed.

So take your shirt off during an outdoor work out, enjoy a 20-minute sun break during your lunch hour at work, or enjoy a more extended sunbath by the pool over the weekend.  If you are light-skinned, your body will make 10-20,000 units of vitamin D with 20 minutes of full sun exposure. The exact amount of vitamin D produced, however, can vary based on the amount of time you already spend in the sun, your age, and your body fat percentage (among other factors).  Keep in mind that regular, ongoing sun exposure to your face, neck and arms won't do the trick; your legs and torso need to see the light of day, too.  

If you plan to be in the sun longer than 20 to 30 minutes, make sure to protect your skin from being burned with the use of an organic-based sunscreen such as Ecologial Skin

Did you know that the Vitamin D produced by your skin can actually be removed from the body by showering with soap?  To optimize your rate of vitamin D3 absorption, shower with water only for the frist 24 hours following a session of sun exposure.  Limit your use of soap to underarms and the essential, personal areas.  

On days that you do receive sufficient sun exposure, there is no need to use a vitamin D supplement.

For a more detailed approach to maximizing your body's abiltiy to benefit from the healing rays of the sun, please refer to this informative post by Dr. Joe Mercola.