We all know that we need to wear sunscreen to protect our skin from the effects of the sun, but how can we protect our skin and ensure that we are still getting enough vitamin D? Dr Philippa Kaye has the answers.
“We make vitamin D through our skin from being in the sun. As soon as the UV index is three or above, you need to wear sunscreen, but it is best to wear it every day, as the UV index can change throughout the day.
Sunscreen stops skin damage but also blocks the effects of UVA and UVB light, which means technically it could stop the skin from being able to produce vitamin D from sunlight.
That is not a reason to not wear sunscreen or wear less, as the evidence shows that we simply do not apply enough sun cream or reapply often enough to prevent us making vitamin D.
A study in Australia, where people were randomly assigned sunscreen or a placebo cream, showed the two groups had
no difference in vitamin D levels.
Aim for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and a high UVA star rating (out of five stars). A broad-spectrum sun cream covers both UVA and UVB rays.
Make sure you use enough – you need at least six teaspoons of cream (the size of a shot glass) to cover your entire body. Another way to think about it is to squeeze the cream down your index and middle fingers – enough to cover your face and neck, and don’t forget your eyelids and ears!
Apply generously and throughout the year.”