I was asked this week, via my facebook page, if sun cream “blocks out” vitamin D. My immediate answer was “Yes, it does – spend about 20 minutes in the sun before applying your suncream.” Then a little voice, the conscientious researcher that is developing within me, said “Is that true? Is that supported by scientific research, or is it just popular dogma?”
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient which is synthesised in the skin when exposed to sunlight. For approximately 4-6 months of the year in winter, the sunshine in the UK (yeah I know, ha ha ha) is not strong enough for us to produce this amazing substance. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more and more common in the UK. Symptoms of deficiency include tiredness, lethargy, frequent colds, widespread muscle soreness and aching in the bones. The great news is, it’s very easily combated by taking oral supplements in the winter months, and in the summer if you’re not going to get at least 20 minutes of bright sunshine each day. I always take vitamin D supplements during the winter and get out in the sunlight as much as possible in the summer, usually spending at least 20 minutes in the sun before applying sun cream. This was because I believed that suncream, which blocks the UV rays which help with vitamin D synthesis, would reduce my production of vitamin D.
Taking some time to look at this in more detail, all of the research that I can find concludes that sunblock does NOT inhibit vitamin D production. So the take home message is to get plenty of sunshine in this glorious weather, but be sensible and use appropriate sun protection. My favourite sunscreen is available via Forever Living Products, just click “Enter Shop” on the right hand side, select your country and then enter “199” into the search bar on the top right. This will find the Aloe Sunscreen, it’s very light and soaks into the skin quickly so doesn’t leave me feeling greasy, and it smells gorgeous!
The research bits:
“It is concluded that sunscreen, in the manner used by the general public, does not cause vitamin D insufficiency.” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136908
“It is concluded that, although sunscreens can significantly reduce the production of vitamin D under very strictly controlled conditions, their normal usage does not generally result in vitamin D insufficiency.” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19663879
“Current studies show that the means of photoprotection used in everyday life do not adversely affect such photosynthesis.” [Photosynthesis of vitamin D] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466150
“Patients should not be discouraged from normal usage of sunscreens due to their well-established photoprotective effects.” – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24313629