Vitamin D Awareness Week
23rd - 30th October 2017
Timed to coincide with the clocks going back and days getting shorter, Vitamin D Awareness Week is a major public awareness campaign to elevate the nation’s understanding of the health issues associated with declining levels of vitamin D and how we can easily improve our family’s intake and eradicate deficiency once and for all.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining the mineral balance in the body. Its most active form in humans, vitamin D3 (‘cholecalciferol’), can be synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight (1). When exposure to UVB radiation is insufficient, adequate intake of vitamin D from the diet is essential for health.
Government guiding on vitamin D
Earlier this year we welcomed new guidance released to the government by Public Health England (PHE), which recommends that everyone take a daily vitamin D supplement to protect bone and muscle health during autumn and winter.
The advice, previously reserved for the Department of Health’s ‘at-risk’ groups, has been broadened to everyone, based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.
The findings point to our ever increasing indoor existence, cloudy climate and use of SPF sunscreens and make-up, all which greatly reduce our bodies ability to adsorb UVB rays and in turn produce vitamin D.
Even during summer months in the UK, we simply are not getting enough vitamin D. We tend to cover up with a high factor sun cream and wear clothing to protect skin and therefore the UVB rays do not reach or penetrate the skin.
Source: Vitamin D Awareness Week
Using indoor tanning to increase your levels of vitamin D
Unfortunately for us in England, and particularly this time of year, there is often no sun to expose ourselves to. Several weeks or even months can pass without significant exposure. This lack of exposure and consequent vitamin D deficiency may be why individuals feel depressed this time of year. There are a lot of studies that are looking in to this link.
It is however possible to use indoor tanning to boost your levels of vitamin D. As with natural sunlight, making the vitamin D you need from a low-pressure (UVB) sunbed happens within minutes. This may be why regular tanners often report feeling ‘lifted’ or ‘energised’ after a tanning session. Furthermore, you do not even need to use a tanning bed for a long time to enable your body to produce vitamin D. In fact half the time it takes for your skin to start turn pink / tan should be enough.
If you do chose to use a sunbed we recommend applying the same common sense that you use when exposing yourself to natural sunlight. This includes preventing yourself from burning by limiting your exposure. However, instead of using a sun protection lotion, use a tanning lotion. By applying a tanning lotion, you are moisturising and hydrating the skin -this helps the UVB rays to penetrate deep enough to reach the vitamin D receptors.
Tip: When using sunbeds solely to boost your vitamin D levels, you may want to consider turning off any facial tanners – if the sunbed has any. This is because these smaller lamps are high-pressure, not the low-pressure UVB emitting lamps you need to stimulate the production of vitamin D.
Disclaimer: This post is simply to refer you to websites and documents that we found interesting. If you want to do more of your own reading on the subject we have listed our references.