There are five known forms of vitamin D: D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. The two forms most important to humans are D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).
Vitamin D is known for its ability to maintain beneficial levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, leading to strong bones. Human vitamin D deficiency is known historically as the cause of rickets, a disease in which the bones become malformed. According to the Mayo Clinic, research also suggests that appropriate levels of vitamin D can provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer and several autoimmune diseases.
Exposure to UVB rays is necessary to produce vitamin D in the human body. This fact has led to a spirited debate among physicians and clinicians about whether daily use of sunscreen is leading to widespread vitamin D deficiency, and whether there is a legitimate need for unprotected sun exposure each day.
Although the benefits of vitamin D are above reproach, how we get this important vitamin is a point of debate. With skin cancer cases rising and increased evidence of the direct link between UV exposure and premature aging, unprotected sun exposure seems an unnecessary risk to take when other sources of vitamin D are readily available. Many dairy foods are fortified with vitamin D; it is also found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and cod. The easiest way to ensure that you have adequate vitamin D levels and avoid other unnecessary health risks is to take a 1,000 IU supplement daily.
At PCA SKIN, we believe that daily use of a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen is critical for skin health. For more information about vitamin D, skin cancer and the debate around this issue, visit www.skincancer.org.