This week in Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter, NYC dermatologist Frank Lipman (who I'm assuming works with Gwyneth?) sounded off on the Vitamin D vs. sun damage conundrum. We know that a huge percentage of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, (which we are learning is even more essential than we thought in areas from cancer protection to bone health to depression) and that the absolute best and most efficient way to get enough Vitamin D is from the sun (it's also free!). Just 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, a few times a week, will allow your body to produce Vitamin D. But, for several reasons, including fear of cancer and wrinkles, we're not getting enough, if any, unprotected time in the sun. Gwyneth herself was found to show the beginning stages of osteopenia (in her 30s) and was put on a prescription-grade Vitamin D supplement.
"This led my western/eastern doctors in New York to test my Vitamin D levels, which turned out to be the lowest they had ever seen (not a good thing). I went on a prescription strength level of Vitamin D and was told to…spend a bit of time in the sun," she says.
Here's what Dr. Lipman has to say about the debate...coming from a dermatologist, what he says may surprise you...
For the last 30 years or so, doctors (dermatologists in particular), health officials, beauty experts and many product companies have been demonizing the sun. They’ve told us to avoid it because without sunscreen, exposure to the sun’s rays will damage skin and cause cancer. But this oversimplification distorts the facts. In the past few years, numerous studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is through safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun.
Western medicine has made a practice of telling us to abstain from things that are bad for us in extreme quantities, when in fact those same things⎯fat, salt, and sunshine for example⎯are very good for us when consumed wisely and in moderation. In the case of sunshine, our UV paranoia is contributing to a silent epidemic: Vitamin D deficiency.
- Have a healthy respect for the sun.
- Always avoid sunburn.
- Get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure 2-4 times a week.
- Get frequent, short exposures.
- After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself.
- Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats.
- Have your Vitamin D blood levels checked regularly.
- Don’t rely on food alone for your Vitamin D needs.
He notes: It is impossible to generate too much Vitamin D in your body from the sun: Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs, which just reaffirms to me that we should get our Vitamin D from sensible sun exposure.