At Skin Care West, we suggest vitamin D 1000 IU daily supplementation to all of our patients who have been counselled to avoid direct sunlight on their skin. Some conditions require stricter sun avoidance than others as your doctor will discuss.
Vitamin D and the skin
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin can make it after being exposed to sunlight. However, for many people with certain skin conditions (actinic keratoses, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, lupus) or history of skin cancers (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma), sun exposure is NOT encouraged.
Why do we need vitamin D?
Because vitamin D is clearly necessary for our bodies for normal bone and muscle growth and maintenance, we need to get it another way than through sunlight radiation. Furthermore, research indicates relationships between low vitamin D levels and many other conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and depression.
How do we get vitamin D?
In addition to or instead of through sunlight we can obtain vitamin D by eating certain foods or by taking vitamin D supplements.
Few foods contain vitamin D except fatty fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolk. In Canada, milk and “milk-substitutes” (such as soy milk or almond milk) as well as margarine are fortified with vitamin D are the main source of vitamin D in our diets.
Health Canada supports the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on vitamin D recommended daily allowance of 400 IU for infants (0-12 months), 600 IU for ages 1-70, 800 IU for greater than 70 years old.
Even if you do obtain vitamin D in your regular diet, supplementation with vitamin D pill or drops can be a good idea for most Canadians, especially during the fall and winter months.
The Canadian Cancer Society suggests supplementing with vitamin D 1000 IU daily all year round if you are over 50, have dark skin, don’t go outside very much, or wear clothing covering most of your skin.