SAN DIEGO, CA (December 9, 2014) – GrassrootsHealth (GRH) released a new video today featuring some of the world’s leading vitamin D experts answering questions about ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’ and discussing the benefits of UV light. “It is hoped that this video will reduce some of the confusion about sunshine and vitamin D and help provide a balanced message to the public,” said Carole Baggerly, Executive Director of GrassrootsHealth.
There are two conflicting views on sun exposure. On the one side are dermatologists, skin cancer organizations and public health groups who have been advising the public to stay out of the midday sun, or to use sunscreen, daily, to reduce the risk of skin cancer. On the other side are vitamin D advocates, scientists and doctors who believe that sensible, non-burning sun exposure helps you achieve adequate vitamin D levels, which reduces your risk of a number of serious diseases without increasing your risk of skin cancer.
The release of the video coincides with the kickoff of the Vitamin D for Public Health 2-day seminar in San Diego hosted by GrassrootsHealth and UC San Diego. Seminar attendees will hear from Dr. Robert Heaney and Dr. Michael Holick, featured in the video, and other experts on the importance of sun exposure for maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D necessary for human health.
In the video, Dr. Robert Heaney, John A Creighton University Professor Emeritus, addresses a question on the natural way to make vitamin D, “The most natural way to make vitamin D is to expose our skin to the sun particularly around midday when the intensity of the sun’s rays will be at their maximum, particularly in the summertime.”
Another important question addressed in the video is, can sunbeds be used to make vitamin D, especially in winter? “Sunbeds of course can be used to make vitamin D. It has been one of the ways that we have measured the amount of vitamin D that the skin has the capacity to make,” stated Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.
“Tanners actually have robust levels of vitamin D,” stated Dr. Michael Holick, Professor, School of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Nutrition, Boston University.
It’s the UVB rays in ultraviolet light that makes vitamin D in your skin. Sunshine at midday in summer is typically composed of 95% UVA and 5% UVB. The small amount of UVB is all it takes to make vitamin D in your skin. This occurs when the UV index is above 3 and your shadow is shorter than your height. During spring/summer the best time to make vitamin D is between 10 am and 2 pm. During the fall/winter months UVB rays do not reach the earth above a latitude of roughly 34 degrees (Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta, GA), so much of the United States and Canada enters a “vitamin D winter” where no vitamin D will be made, regardless of the time of day.
“The good news is that there are many benefits to sunlight besides making vitamin D. Vitamin D is made by a narrow band of the sun’s radiation and there are many other regions in that visible light that produce all kinds of good effects. It is good for the spirit. It raises our happiness, it decreases our blood pressure, it promotes lots of things that are healthy for us. Vitamin D just happens to be the one we are most concerned about now because vitamin D deficiency is so common in the populations of industrialized nations,” reported Dr. Heaney.
GrassrootsHealth is a nonprofit public health research organization dedicated to moving public health messages regarding vitamin D from science into practice. GRH is currently running the D*action population intervention program to solve the vitamin D epidemic worldwide. Under the D*action umbrella, there are programs looking at the entire population as well as targeted programs for breast cancer prevention and a newly announced ‘Protect Our Children NOW!’ program to reduce the complications of vitamin D deficiency encountered during pregnancy and childhood.