Summer is already here and as a tropical country like the Philippines, Filipinos are all set to make the most out of vacation season by spending time outdoors, whether it’s taking a trip to the beach, lounging at the pool, or discovering the wonders of nature.
As temperatures rise, so too does the liberal application of sunscreen. However, studies reveal that using too much of this sun-protection product may lead to vitamin D deficiency. This is because inadequate sun exposure, coupled with low nutritional intake, reduces the capacity of the skin to produce vitamin D3, which the body converts into active vitamin D, a hormone involved in mineral metabolism and bone growth.
Studies published in the United States National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health also show that darker skinned people in tropical areas in South Asia and Southeast Asia have high levels of vitamin D deficiency. There is a high probability that this is also true in the Philippines where Filipinos are strongly pre-conditioned to avoid exposure to sunlight.
Furthermore, Filipinos’ higher melanin levels in the skin strengthen the body’s defenses to ultraviolet rays, reducing vitamin D production.
If not addressed early or treated properly, vitamin D deficiency may contribute to one’s predisposition to developing chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, later in life.
To provide the body its adequate vitamin D needs, doctors recommend a minimum of 15 minutes of sun exposure, provided it’s from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, the best time to get the ideal amount of vitamin D from the sun’s rays.
Doctors also advise taking supplements daily as an effective way to ensure sufficient vitamin D levels in one’s system, since the vitamin is found in only a small number of foods and is difficult to obtain from diet alone.