Did you know that May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month? As a patient with 6 basal cell carcinomas removed from my neck and face (and no, I was not a frequent flyer at the tanning bed), protecting my skin is a top priority so I want to increase awareness of skin health and skin cancer prevention. One of the challenges with protecting your skin with proper sunscreen is that it blocks the UV light that is required for your skin to manufacture Vitamin D. So the argument carries on-do you protect your skin and risk a Vitamin D deficiency or do you expose your skin to get the Vitamin D and increase your risk for skin cancer?
Along with calcium, Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health. Its role is to bring the calcium and phosphorus to the bones and teeth as well as regulating how much calcium is in the bloodstream. Without enough Vitamin D, you could be at a greater risk for bone mass loss and possibly osteoporosis. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for Vitamin D is 600 IU a day for people between the ages of 1-70. Since Vitamin D is found in few foods, some foods have been fortified with Vitamin D. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel are the best sources of naturally occurring Vitamin D. However, most milk and some juices, yogurts, cheeses, and ready-to-eat cereals have been fortified to increase their Vitamin D content.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to put your skin at risk to get enough Vitamin D in your diet. Protect your skin from the dangerous UV rays by applying sunscreen this summer and get your Vitamin D by including a serving of salmon in your diet (which includes other heart health benefits), having a glass of milk or Vitamin D- fortified juice or taking a multivitamin that provides the recommended 600 IU per day of Vitamin D. These are safer than the risk for skin cancer, and a lot less painful, take it from me!