Vitamin D shortage linked to sunscreen

Summer advice you SHOULDN’T follow

Officially, summer’s still a month off. Unofficially, it’s supposed to start next weekend, as Memorial Day arrives.

Here in sunny San Diego, it feels like summer kicked in WEEKS ago!

Whenever summer begins for you, there’s something that almost always comes hand-in-hand with it — and that’s the alarmist fear-mongering about the supposed danger of the sun.

Of course you don’t want a sunburn. And of course too much sun too often can boost your long-term risk of skin cancer.

But if you listen to these people, you’ll be afraid to step outside without a moonsuit.

Now, the latest research shows how all that fear is taking a toll on your health — because while sunscreen can block the UV rays that can lead to those painful sunburns, your body uses those same rays to produce vitamin D.

If you wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, however, the ability goes dark.

Those creams can block 99 percent of your body’s production of the sunshine vitamin, according to the new study.

That, in turn, is helping to drive a crisis in D levels, with people around the world suffering from low levels of this nutrient.

And that’s already having disastrous consequences.

Low D levels can lead to weaker bone, especially in older folks. It can cripple your immune system, exposing you to infection and other risk. It can even increase your risk of heart problems, dementia, cancer, and more.

The researchers behind the new study say folks should aim for getting outside twice a week for 30 minutes without sunscreen.

But that doesn’t make much sense, either.

How much time you can handle out under the sun depends on your skin. If you burn easily, you might need to seek cover in as little as 10 minutes. If your complexion isn’t quite as light, you can go 20 minutes or maybe even the full 30.

If you’re going to be out longer than what your skin can handle, use sun protection — but be careful about what you choose. Avoid sunscreens that contain parabens and a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, both of which have been linked to cancer.

Look instead for a natural cream that uses titanium and/or zinc oxide.

Then, just to make sure you’re getting what you need, take a quality vitamin D supplement each day. If you’re active and spend some time outdoors, you might need as little as 2,000 IUs.

If you’re not, you could need double that level or more.

Your doc can help you sort it all out.

I’ll have more for you on summer health boosters coming up just in time for the warm weather in the June edition of Health Revelations, so keep an eye on your mailbox!