18. Jul 2016
Safe tanning procedures – not only for lighting designers / Increasing vitamin D levels during your holidays
Text: Dr. Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska
Have you already booked your summer holidays and bought sunscreen creams with a high SPF factor? New findings in the medical field show that we need to review our commonly shared understanding of the fear of exposure to sunlight and its association with carcinogenesis (creation of cancer). There is a strong indication that inadequate levels of vitamin D in the human body can be the cause of some terminal illnesses and contribute to poor health. So read this short overview for increasing vitamin D levels during your holidays naturally.
By applying broad spectrum sunscreen all over the body, UVB rays are blocked and there is no production of vitamin D through the skin. Sun cream with SPF30 factor already reduces vitamin D production by more than 95 per cent. Copyright: Kzenon/Fotolia
• Ask your doctor to check your 25(OH)D levels by doing a blood serum test before going on holidays. Typically, in March you would have the lowest levels and in August/ September the highest.
• Compare your results with the levels in the links for the Vitamin D-Estimator. (The Vitamin D-Estimator is a useful and user-friendly tool for assessing your own vitamin D levels. It can be downloaded for free under: http://vitamind3-cholecalciferol.com/how-to-estimate-your-vitamin-d-level)
• Check your geographical location (latitude) and possibility of obtaining vitamin D from the sun, since it stays in your blood two to three times longer.
• Check your skin type, season and time of the day to decide on the most appropriate time for exposing your skin to the sun.
• By exposing your skin to sunlight without sunscreen around the midday (11am to 1p.m) during late spring, summer and early autumn, you can achieve the best results and shorten the amount of time required to produce vitamin D and thus also reduce your exposure to UVA radiation. Around noon, the path the UVB rays have to travel to enter the earth’s atmosphere is at its shortest (UVB rays are required for the Vitamin D synthesis in human skin). (See Fig.2.)
Around noon, the path the UVB rays have to travel to enter the earth’s atmosphere is at its shortest; less exposure to sunlight can produce more vitamin D over a shorter period of time. Copyright: V. Labancova
• In order to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D, your shadow should be shorter than your height. (See Fig. 3.) Do not risk getting sunburned as this can lead to skin cancer, wrinkles and ageing.
Diagram explaining the relationship between the azimuth angle of the sun and UVB rays entering the earth’s atmosphere. In order to produce adequate levels of vitamin D the angle of incidence of solar radiation α should be 45° < α < 90°. Also, if your shadow is longer than you are, you are not producing any vitamin D. Copyright: Dr. Karolina M. Zielinska and V. Labancova
• The more skin you expose while sunbathing, the more and quicker you can produce vitamin D. For good results a minimum of 40 per cent of your body surface should be exposed. Keep in mind that skin uses the Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in the sun’s rays to trigger the production of the Vitamin D. It is actually a precursor of cholesterol (provitamin D) that absorbs UV energy, which is converted into previtamin D3 and then gradually converted to vitamin D3 in warm skin. So expose the fatty parts of your body!
• Use a preferably natural sunscreen with a high SPF factor for face and hands (but only for UVA) and put on some clothes after receiving the required dose of sunlight, if you intend to stay in the sun. You can also go into the shade.
• Avoid using soap and shower gels, shampoos directly after exposing your skin to the sun (wait for few hours), since these detergents may stop the process in your skin and it takes 24 hours to produce vitamin D. You can wash sand off with water.
• When basking in the sun always shield your face with a hat or cap, or apply sunscreen. The face is the most sun-sensitive area of our body and can age easily. It produces very little vitamin D.
• Do not use tanning beds, since you cannot really control the UVB and UVA levels. Additionally, you may also be affected by the electro smog from the fluorescent ballasts located in the tanning equipment.
After all: Enjoy your holidays!