Monday, January 28, 2013

Nutritional Vitamin D

I see so many misconceptions stated in articles that a person can get sufficient Vitamin D through diet. This is simply not true.  Check this out from an article about how to get every vitamin through food sources:

Why you need it: Vitamin D, which our body generates on its own when our skin is exposed to sunlight, helps spur calcium absorption and bone growth. It's also important for cell growth, immunity, and the reduction of inflammation.
Where to get it: Fatty fishes—including swordfish, salmon, and mackerel—are among the few naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D. (Cod liver oil is tops, with 1,360 IU per tablespoon, while swordfish is second with 566 IU, or 142% DV.) Most people tend to consume vitamin D via fortified foods such as milk, breakfast cereals, yogurt, and orange juice.
Good information, however, it doesn’t really tell you that you can’t get ENOUGH Vitamin D by simply eating these foods. The “142% DV” part is inaccurate; it leads the reader to believe that 566 IU of Vitamin D is adequate. While there is not really a clear or consistent RDA that seems to be agreed upon depending on your research, I feel the evidence of the epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency would need to be taken into consideration here. If the RDA listed here of 566 IU were a sufficient level for a person with an already healthy Vitamin D level, it would make sense that for a person that is deficient, they would need a higher intake.
How about some math to make my point?

To go from 20 ng/ml to 40 ng/ml would require an average additional intake of 2600 IU/day. So that would mean taking in 3166 IU per day. Considering that a 20ng/ml level is actually average (and well below the recommended range of 40-60ng/ml) for the US, the statement that 142% DV is misleading. So how much fatty fish and cod liver oil do you want to eat every day?

Now take a look at these numbers for comparison.

UVB Exposure
Natural Sunlight – 10,000 – 20,000 IU per day, in summer, 10am – 2pm
Tanning Bed with UVB – 10,000 IU per session
Salmon – fresh, wild, 3.5 oz – 400 – 1000 IU
Salmon – farmed, 3.5 oz – 100 - 250 IU
Fortified Milk – 8 oz – 100 IU
Vitamin D3 – from 400 – 1,000 IU in tablets or liquid

So what seems like the most effective and efficient source of Vitamin D? THIS is why it is important to know your level, and know how much Vitamin D you are getting. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fear Factor

I have seen several anti-tanning articles this week stating that tanning is 10 to 12 times more dangerous than the sun.  While I’m not sure what sparked this rash of fear based propaganda.  It is just a scare tactic that is overblown and misleading. So let me just say this. Tanning beds do have a more concentrated UV output, which is how you are able to tan in a fraction of the time it would take outdoors. This is nothing new; the tanning industry fully admits that.  Now, for some reason the media has decided to focus on that and make it seem more dangerous than tanning outdoors. So let’s look at that closer.

In a tanning salon you are assessed for skin type. Skin type 1 (the fairest type) would be turned away because the risk of burn is too high. That is a responsible practice. A salon would recommend spray tanning or nothing because their goal is to avoid burning their clients. Tanning outdoors is risky for these people too, does the sun turn them away? Any person of any skin type can go outdoors and stay in the sun as long as they want to try to tan their skin. That is risky because it isn’t controlled. There is a science to what the tanning industry does; they take into consideration the client’s skin type, the equipment available, and the frequency of how often a person tans in their salon. So how could that be worse than tanning outdoors? It isn’t, but the media wants to just focus on the fact that tanning beds have a higher UV concentration, but forget to point out there are safety measures in place to keep clients from sunburn. As I’ve said in previous blogs, there is a time limit on how long you stay in a bed depending on equipment and skin type. I can’t stress this enough.  The tanning beds may be stronger with UV output, but you are not in the bed as long as time you would be outdoors to get a tan.

The silly scare tactics of the articles I have been seeing are just that, scare tactics. I just hope that people realize that it is overblown and inaccurate way to present how tanning beds work. Don’t buy into the fear. There is nothing wrong with moderation and that is what salons encourage most.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How I Know A Base Tan Works

I hear the argument that a tan is skin damage and that a base tan is a myth. Well, I would like to say that given my personal experience, there are advantages to having a base tan. Before I started tanning I burned when I was in the sun more than 10-15 minutes. It was awful. I couldn’t do anything outside without a hat, shade or some kind of cover. Now, I can be outdoors without worry for hours. Tell me that isn’t an improvement in my life.

Prime example of how a base tan protects you from burning. A while back I went to tan and forgot I didn’t have my clothing I normally wear to tan. Sorry folks, I don’t do it in the buff…mostly so I could gauge if I was getting color. I am so fair you really can’t tell that I have a tan without actually seeing the contrast of my tan line. Anyway, I just went ahead and tanned in what I had and later that evening I noticed that the top I wore was cut a little lower than what I normally would wear under my arms. I knew that because I had a small strip of pink where the skin didn’t have a base tan.  It wasn’t a bad burn, just a little pink, but it made it abundantly clear that the base tan I had been working on was protecting my skin.

Again, burning is skin damage. I burned easily before starting this tan project. Within just a few months, by building up my tolerance of UV through the controlled environment of a salon, I was able to walk 5k walks on sunny days without any burn. I started tanning late February 2012 and my first 5k walk was in April. Then at least once a month I did a 5k throughout the summer. A 5k takes me about an hour to complete, and then I usually hang around afterwards to enjoy the festivities for 30 min to an hour.  The base tan was protecting me from burning.

To give an example for you to compare what it was like for me before. A few years ago I attended a funeral in April. There was a graveside service that lasted about 15 minutes. There was no shade so I had to just stand there in the sun and hope it wouldn’t last long. I could feel my skin getting hot and it was uncomfortable. I ended up with a burn on my face, chest, and the top of my feet that lasted for several days. That was just from 15 minutes of exposure. Now, that doesn’t mean I CAN’T burn, I am still careful to pay attention to how my skin feels when I am in the sun. Too much sun, even with a base tan, can and will burn and damage your skin. Know your limits and protect your skin from burning with a reasonable SPF when you will be exposed for an extended amount of time.

So when you hear a dermatologist say that tanning is damaging to your skin, remember, tanning is the body’s natural response to UV exposure, and a base tan does, in fact, protect your skin from burning.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ultra Sunscreen Overload

I was shopping with my family yesterday and stopped by the local Walgreens to pick up a few items. What caught my eye was the full aisle display of sunscreen right inside the door. This is January in Colorado. Why would this be so prominent in the store at this time of year? OK, skiing maybe. Higher elevation in the mountains and we do get a lot of sunshine on our slopes. But we are in Vitamin D winter and even in the mountains it is difficult to get a burn this time of year. Then there are the high numbers on these products. Wow. I just had to go check it out and I just can’t get over the SPF levels of these lotions and creams. It is so unnecessary to use an SPF of 90+ or 100+ which by the way, were nearly sold out! What is the thought process to purchase something like that? It is like putting a bandage on your skin in anticipation of a wound. It doesn’t make sense.  It is complete overkill. Even when I was super sensitive to the sun I didn’t need anything higher than 25-30 SPF. But these products are being marketed as more protection from skin cancer and they charge a higher price to have this false sense of security.

I believe that sunscreen is useful, don’t get me wrong, but ONLY when sunburn needs to be prevented. Daily incidental sun exposure is not going to burn you.  The fact that it is included in most make-up, moisturizers, and other cosmetics is hard to completely avoid.  When I go tan I normally do not wear make-up or anything containing SPF. Sometimes that is hard because I will stop in before or after work, so there is product on my face. I always use a lip balm with SPF though. Lips don’t have the cells that produce melanin so they do need to be protected. Other than that, I find that the SPF 15 included in my foundation is sufficient to keep me burn free.  

If we wear these high SPF products every day all the time, we are blocking the important UVB rays from our skin. That means we are keeping our bodies from producing Vitamin D. That means we are risking many health problems by being Vitamin D deficient. That cycle needs to stop. Moderate UVB exposure is what we need. So let’s all put down that SPF lotion, unless we are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. Remember, sunburn should always be avoided. Know your skin, and your reaction to exposure to gauge how much time you should spend in the sun without SPF. Use a reasonable SPF sunscreen, don't fall for the high number gimmick.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolution for 2013

Happy New Year! I have been thinking about what I would like to do in the coming year. I would really like to spread the word that tanning is not evil and an automatic skin cancer sentence. But how do I do that? When I started this blog I really had no idea how much negative and inaccurate information I was up against.  It seems that for every positive comment on an article I read about tanning there are 100 negative. And from the negative it is all about skin cancer. How can I change that perspective? How can it be more balanced? I think it can be done, but it will be an uphill battle. I am happy that I am not alone in this battle for I do see comments that are positive. Although I suspect these are from salon owners and staff because it seems the general public is still in the dark, so to speak, about the positive side of tanning. So the few of us out there spreading the word need to plant the seed, nurture it, and watch it grow.

Education about the benefits of tanning needs to be in the forefront. So much focus has been on the negative and the solution most professionals offer is simply sun avoidance. But they don’t point out the major risks of their solution. Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic right now because of that ill conceived solution. Yet we are now hearing about how important Vitamin D is and how having a healthy level is the key in preventing so many diseases. What’s the professional’s solution? “Avoid the sun; just take a pill to get your Vitamin D.” But we can get vitamin D more efficiently through UVB exposure. Why can’t the message be, “Moderate UVB exposure is the best for most, but for those that can’t tan (skin type 1) or are high risk for skin cancer, take a pill.”  Is that so hard?  The general public needs to be educated that the message they have been told for so many years is wrong. It has caused a major health risk because it wasn’t balanced.

What I intend to do is continue finding articles and blogs to share my story with. Maybe someone will read it and understand that it can be beneficial to tan and perhaps they too will have an experience like mine and tell their story. That is really all I can do right now. I do hope it grows and people will become more educated that the risks of tanning are minimal compared to the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.