Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gardening and the sunshine vitamin

Following routine blood work, I was surprised to learn from the doc that I had low Vitamin D levels. Apparently, it's so common that these days it's regularly tested for. Nobody knows why this should be so, but the doc said the odds-on favorite is excessive use of sunscreen. (The skin cancer message seems to have been received.) The pharmacist said the same thing when I picked up the D3 prescription.

Well, I'm not buying it. The best source of Vitamin D comes from sun exposure, and nobody, especially in these latitudes where the sun's rays are strongest, should be deficient. And especially if they spend time outside. I only use sunscreen when I plan to be in the garden for any length of time, but I'm not fanatical and I spend a few minutes here and there most days in sunlight. I have (light) tan lines to prove it.

There are all sorts of factors that govern the manufacture of D in the skin, including intensity of the rays and the color of the skin (the darker, the more sun exposure required). Here, for example, is what WebMD says:

Many people living in the Southern United States can get enough vitamin D by getting about 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on their arms and face a few times a week -- as long as they don't use sunscreen, which blocks some of the UV rays necessary to make the vitamin.

That is not difficult to do in South Florida.

So, dear readers, are you Vitamin D deficient? Do you think the sunscreen explanation is credible? Do weigh in.


Bangchik said...

No one i know has been diagnosed as Vitamin D deficient. Where we live, sun is always glaring...

Penny McCrea said...

But until recently, nobody was looking for it. I would have thought I was the last person to be D deficient, so this was a real surprise.

NanaK said...

That's interesting. I don't know if I have been vitamin D deficient but my doctor has me taking a calcium supplement that has D in it as the vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. One would think living in the Sunshine State would eliminate the need for more D but evidently, not so.

Penny McCrea said...

Hey, Nana. Yes, you would think there'd be no deficiency living here. I find the whole thing very strange. I'm wondering if there's some other environmental factor at work here.