What Do Derms Really Think About Vitamin D?

Summer is (sadly) on the other end of winding down, but the chatter surrounding vitamin D is still going strong: Do you need it—or don’t you? And if you do, how much is enough, and where, exactly, should you be getting it from? Here, two derms weigh in with five things about this always-in-the-news supplement you need to know now.

There’s a difference between the sun’s vitamin D and supplements. According to Hollywood, FL, dermatologist Gary Goldfaden, MD, unfortunately, the most effective source of vitamin D is still the sun. “The widespread misunderstanding that taking vitamin D supplements will supply enough to the skin leaves most people deficient. Vitamin D maximizes skin's immunity, provides powerful antioxidant protection, improves elasticity and promotes a more youthful complexion.”

But, that doesn’t mean skip the sunscreen. “As little as five minutes of non-sunscreen sun exposure is enough for vitamin D,” says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD.

And look to other sources (like your food), in milk/dairy products. “Check the label to make sure it is fortified with vitamin D,” Dr. Peredo says. “Cereals and grains are also fortified with it and naturally occurring vitamin D–rich foods include salmon, tuna, mackerel and eggs.”

Being deficient may be more common than you think. “Most senior citizens are vitamin D deficient because as we age (post-50) the amount our bodies produce diminishes,” Dr. Goldfaden says. “When you do not get enough of it, internally, you may feel ‘blue’ or lethargic and your bones or muscles may hurt or ache. Low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to cancer, asthma in children and increased heart disease. When you do not get enough of it, your skin is also affected—your complexion may look dull and uneven and be more susceptible to skin infections. Most eczema sufferers are deficient in it as well.”


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