New research has doctors worried that more and more of us are deficient in vitamin D- a hormone our body produces when it’s exposed to sunlight. Could sunscreen be one culprit? While the smelly cream is essential to protect our skin from aging and skin cancer, some doctors say it is providing a barrier between our bodies and the good stuff the sun’s rays provide. So why should we care? Well for starters, doctors are seeing a resurgence of rickets (a softening and weakening of the bones) and are worried about an increase in osteoporosis in adults over 50. A deficiency in the vitamin can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, cancer, depression, insomnia, diabetes, chronic pain and even autism. Low vitamin D levels can also make us feel tired and lethargic. The best medicine, say some doctors, is ten to thirty minutes of sunshine per day. So if you’re racked with guilt for calling in “sick” to go to the beach, you can take some comfort in knowing it may be good for your health.
Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., Director, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University Medical Center