6. After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself. If you’re going to be out in the sun for longer periods, wear a hat to protect your face and light colored clothing that blocks the sun and keeps you cool. When you do apply sunscreen, use one with fewer chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens. Remember that even weak sunscreens block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D, so once you have applied it, you will not be making vitamin D.
7. Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats. These strengthen skin cells, helping to protect them from sun damage. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, goji berries and pomegranates and supplementing with green powdered mixes and fish oils are great options when going into the sun.
8. Have your vitamin D blood levels checked regularly. The correct blood test is 25OH vit D or 25 hydroxy vitamin D test. Be aware, however, that current “normal” range for vitamin D is 20 to 55 ng/ml. This is much too low! Those levels may be fine if you want to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, but they are not adequate for optimal health. The ideal range for optimal health is 50-80 ng/ml.
9. Don’t rely on food alone for your vitamin D needs. It is almost impossible to get your vitamin D needs met by food alone. Fatty wild fish (not farmed), like salmon and mackerel are the best food sources, but you would have to eat huge quantities of them daily to get anywhere near what your body needs. Although fortified milk and orange juice do contain vitamin D, you would have to drink at least 10 glasses of each daily and I don’t recommend doing that.
10. Take Vitamin D3 supplements if necessary. In the winter or if you don’t get enough healthy sun exposure or if your blood levels are low, make sure you supplement with at least 2,000 IU’s a day of Vitamin D3. Although I recommend moderate sunbathing, vitamin D supplements provide the same benefits as sunshine (in terms of Vitamin D needs). But, if taken in too large a dose, they can cause vitamin D toxicity, whereas sun exposure does not. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from the sun: Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs, which just reaffirms to me that we should get our vitamin D from sensible sun exposure. Here are specific guidelines for replenishing Vitamin D.
Although irresponsible sunbathing is unquestionably harmful and precautions need to be taken, regular, moderate, unprotected sun exposure is essential for good health. It is free, easy to get and good for you when used intelligently. It is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body, which we now know to be an essential ingredient for optimizing health and preventing disease.
Frank Lipman MD is the creator of Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions, a leading edge integrative health program.
He is also the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC, where he practices a combination of Western and Eastern Medicine and the many other complimentary modalities he has studied. He is the author of the recent REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) and TOTAL RENEWAL: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003). and
Follow Dr. Frank Lipman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lipmo