Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Vitamin D & SPF


Gone are the days of my youth basting on a foil suntanning sheet with baby oil.
These days the sun hits and the spf gets dragged out of the cupboard quicker than you can say 'Lobster'. Well that could be your first mistake. Check for an expiration date - if it doesn't have one - assume it will only last a year - you may need to buy a fresh batch. Painful if it's still half full I know!

And then how much do you apply?? And how high a factor? And WHICH one to use?

Some very brief and general rules of thumb for sun-bunnies and the not-so-keen!
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreen - UVA and UVB (A for aging, B for burning)
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, gradually destroying elasticity and causing premature ageing. UVB rays cause skin damage and can alter the structure of skin cells, and ultimately lead to possible skin cancer.
  • Consider not going higher than a factor 30
New research and medical advice says that using higher than a 30 gives you a false sense of security - all sunscreen needs to be applied every 2 hours - regardless of the factor. Studies show that you are much less likely to reapply if you are using a high factor. So much so, that in Australia, on the advice of the Cancer Council - the rules are now that if you have anything over a 30 in your product you can only call it SPF 30+.
  •  Use enough
Most people apply too little sunscreen. This results in sunscreen users achieving an SPF of between 50-80% less than that specified on the product label. You need at least a teaspoon full for each body part - arm, leg (tablespoon for me thanks!), front, back and face - don't forget your ears and neck.
  • Avoid oxybenzone
Common in a lot of suncreams AND skincare products with SPF - known as a hormone-disruptor - so much so that the EU makes companies put 'contains oxybenzone' on all packaging where it is present


Vitamin D

I love a bit of vitamin D.  I rant to anyone who will listen about all number of supplements - but vit D has been my obsession for a while.  So below is a rant, I'm not your GP - this is food for thought - not a prescription folks.
As much as too much sun can be bad for you - really bad for you - so too, can too little sun.  In the northern hemisphere where most people living modern life spend a larger proportion of their time indoors and with most of their skin surface covered by clothing or sunscreen when outdoors, there is a growing deficiency in vitamin D.  Vit D needs to be present for the intestines to absorb dietary calcium - so much so in cases where children have been sheltered and covered up since birth, this has lead to an increase in non-nutrition related rickets in Australia. 

Vitamin D is actually in its truest form, a hormone - and is essential for our well-being, yet the use of sunscreens prevents the development of Vit D in the body.  Vitamin D also degrades as quickly as it generates - giving another stumbling block to retaining it in our system.

No lecturing - just some facts - a nice little list of what vit D actually does for you...

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of the flu and complications of flu.
Vitamin D contributes to lowering the incidence of infections and inflammation during the fall-winter flu season. The Canadian government has recommended increased Vitamin D intake as part of their flu prevention strategy, including prevention of Swine Flu.

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of depression. 
Better than prozac surely?!  

Vitamin D can reduce chronic muscle aching and pain.
Vitamin D helps to normalize blood calcium which is required for tight shortened muscles to soften, lengthen and relax out of spasm. When calcium is available to the muscles, menstrual cramps lessen!

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of cancer.
Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with increased incidence of many cancers.

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack and atherosclerosis (build up of fat in the arteries - high cholesterol!).

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes by 80 percent.

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of getting autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, IBS and Lupus.
Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with increased auto- immune attack, breakdown of your own tissues and loss of normal functions. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis by 40 percent.

Vitamin D can reduce your risk of bone fractures, bone loss and osteoporosis.

Dark skinned people make less Vitamin D than those with light skin.

Aging skin makes 75 percent less Vitamin D than young skin.

Vitamin D rich foods include cold water fish such as wild salmon, wild cod and sardines and cod liver oil. However, you would need to eat mammoth amounts of these foods to build up your Vitamin D stores.
If you decide to supplement - Lambert's is my personal fave - high quality and uber-affordable - make sure you use the correct biologically active form of Vitamin D which is Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), not Vitamin D2!

So cover up - just don't cover up TOO much ALL of the time!

P.S. - Lambert's know nothing about my recommendation - I'm a long time customer.


  1. Possibly the most informative post I've ever read.

    Thanks for this. I agree with needing some sunshine to be healthy and really enjoyed reading this.

    Sunburn is a personal hatred of mine, especially on children. But I agree there is no need to stay out of it altogether.

    Plus sunshine makes us happier yay

  2. We are a nation that goes Bonkers in the sun, that's for sure!

    Too many peeps I know get themselves burnt (on purpose) so as to 'stimulate' the melanin. TOSH!!!

    As the daughter of a dermatologists PA and the sister of a person with Albinism we have always been made to be resposible in the sun, your comment about using too higher factor makes a lot of sense.

    I make sure I get the right balance of sun exposure and protection on the 7-8 days of summer we get a year. And I always feel a heck of a lot better for it too!

    Will be getting the Vit D supplements for my mum.

    K x

  3. Vitamin D is believed to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer in older women, especially breast cancer. Before the introduction of vitamin D supplements, children faced a high risk of a bone disease called rickets that caused a permanent bowing of the legs. Such a wonderful discovery.

  4. Hi Caroline, I know this post is *really* late, but I was wondering if you could tell me how big the Vit. D. capsules are? I have a major deficiency and am prescribed vitamin D, but they're huge and I can't take them easily. Are the Lambert's the size of horse tranquillisers? Thanks!

    1. No they're really tiny - don't worry! :)

  5. Thank you for contacting interest to those issues. I think people must be skeptical of an additional drug plan, and maybe inquire for non-pharmacological treatments prior to accepting drug remedies. Unfortunately, with mass-advertising of medicines in this country, we have come to acknowledge regimen medicines like a normal of treatment as opposed to the exception.

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  6. This article from Victoria Health's Shabir Daya suggests that vitamin D taken sublingually is more effective than tablets. Regardless, its a vitamin I'm going to be taking this Winter.



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