The Vitamin D Dilemma

Posted by: on Aug 23, 2013 | No Comments

“Don’t forget the sunblock” is an all too common warning many of us heard growing up from our moms and continue to hear now. On one visit to my dermatologist a few years ago, the conversation turned to golf. His advice to me was to “aim for the trees,” a line I frequently repeat but advice I try to avoid. It was his way of telling me to limit my exposure to the sun while I’m out on the golf course.

Listen, for years we have all heard about the dangers of too much exposure to the sun. Too much increases your risk for skin cancer and melanoma. Nobody wants that. On the other hand, nobody really talks too much about the benefits of sun exposure and the downside to not getting enough sun.

Last week I had my annually physical. My lab work showed a Vitamin D deficiency. The solution…get more sun, mother nature’s great source of Vitamin D, helping you build strong bones, fights hypertension and other positive health effects.

Oh the irony or is it on the conspiracy? From what I’ve heard, when it comes to sun screen, anything over 30 SPF is just a number. Afterall, SPF 30 blocks out 90% of the suns damaging rays. You know what happens when you use SPF 50 or more? You pay more money. Who benefits from all these lotions and sunblocks? Mostly the companies that sell them. Now, if you need to get more Vitamin D but can’t get it from the sun, where are you getting it?  I know…let’s use a Vitamin D supplement. And who benefits from Vitamin D supplement sales? I know that too. The companies that sell those.

Do the same companies that sell sun blocking products also sell Vitamin D supplements? Maybe. Do the same companies that sell sun blocking products and Vitamin D supplements share information? Maybe. Do the CEOs and other high paid executives of the companies that sell sun blocking products and Vitamin D supplements play golf together, share their corporate jets and laugh at the American consumer because they’ve poked us in the eyes with sun block and blinded us from the reality that the sun isn’t so bad afterall? Probably not but I couldn’t stop myself from seeing just how far I can take this!

The biggest advocate for sunblock usage and being very weary of the sun was my mom. Despite the fact that she lived year round in Florida for the last 16 years of her life, she never got tan. On the days she was out in the sun, she schmeared on the sun block (I think is was SPF 1000) and always wore a big beach hat whenever she would go to the beach or sit outside. A couple of years before she passed, she was told she had a Vitamin D deficiency and to get more sun. I only wish I was there to see the look on her face when the doctor told her that one.

So what are we do? I think you have to look at the sun they way you look at food. Everything in moderation. Too much sun and you’ll shrivel up like prune (and we all know plenty of folks who look like that), not to mention the potential for the really bad and potentially fatal side effects. Not enough sun and you’ve got a whole other set of issues.

As for me, I’m sorry Dr. Dermatologist but I’m going to do my best to keep my ball in the fairway.