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Vitamin D From the Sun, Is It Worth It?

If you aren’t excited about the FDA researching all the ingredients in sunscreens and finding out which is safe and not safe for your skin… well, we are! Sun exposure is extremely damaging to the skin and puts you at a high risk of developing skin diseases and cancers so this is a huge step in the world of suncare. But, you’ve probably heard about the importance of getting vitamin D from the sun. So what’s the deal? How do we get vitamin D if we shouldn’t be in the sun?


A Quick 101



Vitamin D is crucial for your body to absorb calcium and maintain healthy. A lack of vitamin D in the body may lead to serious bone-related conditions. You can get vitamin D from fatty fish and fortified foods.


Vitamin D is a nutrient that the body needs in order to absorb the calcium in our body. Aside from calcium absorption, it’s also crucial for strengthening our nervous, muscle and immune system. Those with a vitamin D deficiency are at the risk of hurting their bone health. Bones can soften and become brittle, a condition known as rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults). Even more serious health consequences include: osteoporosis, muscle weakness, depression, cancer and death.


Initially, Vitamin D is stored in the liver, where it’s converted into calcidiol. Then, it gets sent to the kidney where it turns into its activated form, calcitriol. The activated form of vitamin D regulates calcium in your blood, bones and gut. It also increases the amount of calcium the gut absorbs from food and prevent calcium loss. 


There are very few foods that contain vitamin D.  These foods are generally fatty fish and fortified foods (food with calcium added). That’s your breakfast cereals, soy milk, and energy bars. But most of us will get vitamin D from the sun. However, being under the sun without sunscreen can lead to plenty of other problems. Another option are supplements. And guess what? Vitamin D supplements have been proven to help your acne!


RELATED READ: Time for a Refresher: Suncare 101


Can Vitamin D Help Acne?



Recent research has found vitamin D deficiency to be associated with acne severity. Participants who took vitamin D supplements for two months showed improvements in their acne.


In a 2016 study, they evaluated the vitamin D levels of 80 patients with acne and 80 healthy controls. They found that patients with a higher level of acne severity were associated with a vitamin D deficiency.


When researchers put vitamin D supplements to the test, the results found that the supplements helped with acne severity. After the initial observation, 39 vitamin D deficient patients with acne were blindly asked to take a low dose of a vitamin D supplement or a placebo. After two months, the results showed that patients whose vitamin D levels increased were also associated with a significant improvement in the clinical severity of acne compared to the control group.

Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne

What does this mean for your skin? It’s simple–you need Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps with our immune system so it’s possible that these supplements soothed skin inflammation and calcitriol aided in skin repair. 

So... how should I get my vitamin D?



It’s impossible to avoid the sun, so here’s what we suggest: if you’re going to be in the sun for long periods, apply sunscreen every two hours, and take vitamin D supplements regularly.


One of the issues consumers face is that we don’t really understand how much sunlight we actually need. We shouldn’t be in the sun, but we need vitamin D… so, how long should you be in the sun? 


The American Skin Association says you should avoid exposing bare skin completely just to be safe, because any minute of sun exposure will lead to UV radiation damage. And over time, it could cause acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. However, there are other sources that claim you only need to be in the sun for about 10-15 minutes to get enough vitamin D. But what both sources have in common is that they both emphasize the use of sunscreen.


Taking both sources into consideration, here’s what we would do: 


  1. Apply sunscreen every two hours. This way, as you reapply, the minutes in between applications will be enough sun for your skin. 
  2. Take supplements (or eat more salmon!) Supplements like Vitamin D2 and D3 have been proven to help your skin and bones. 

We’re not here to tell you to never be in the sun–that’s kind of impossible! But we highly recommend you to get your vitamin D and carry sunscreen around with you everywhere so your skin chill safely in the sun.

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