Don't get sunburned. We hear that all the time. But here's one you don't hear all the time: Don't use sunscreen. Yes, you heard me right. According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association using sunscreen could be one of our worst habits.
The researchers came to their conclusions after conducting a review of all the clinical studies that looked at the different causes of vitamin D deficiency. What they found was amazing. According to the team, using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can reduce the body's vitamin D3 production by 99%!
This is bad enough for everyone, but it's especially a problem for patients with Crohn's disease, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. That's because patients with these diseases already have a problem with maintaining a healthy vitamin D level. The researchers were able to show that sunscreen use in patients with these diseases causes almost one million cases of vitamin D deficiency worldwide. And what does vitamin D deficiency lead to? It's not pretty.
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Vitamin D is critical for healthy bones. A deficiency leads to decreased bone density, osteoporosis, and fractures. The vitamin is also vital for optimal muscle and nerve function. And it helps the immune system to stave off infection. Not only that, but low levels of vitamin D also can cause cancer, rickets, bone pain, muscle weakness, increased blood pressure, depression, and multiple sclerosis. So what do the authors recommend?
According to co-author Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer, from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California, we can safely use sunscreen as long as we take a break every now and then. They suggest that simply exposing our bodies to midday sun without sunscreen for 30 minutes twice a week is enough to maintain a normal vitamin D level. But if you can't do this, then taking a Vitamin D supplement is absolutely vital.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Pfotenhauer KM, Shubrook JH. Vitamin D Deficiency, Its Role in Health and Disease, and Current Supplementation Recommendations. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2017 May 1;117(5):301-305.