Vitamin D plays an important role in our health. It plays a role in muscle development, bone development, immunity, calcium absorption and much more. It’s a micro-nutrient that actually plays a role in every cell in our body just like any other micro-nutrient. We can get vitamin D through our diet (typically through meat and dairy, but also mushrooms) as well as from the sun. The sun is the easiest (and cheapest) way to get your vitamin D levels up.
It’s an important vitamin for so many roles and functions, including hormones such as serotonin and melatonin which play a role in energy production, happiness and sleep quality. If you live in the northern hemisphere you need to get outside and get sunshine more often than those that live in the southern hemisphere because the UV rays are stronger closer to the sun. Many people are not getting enough vitamin D though, in fact according to pubmed.gov almost 42% of American Adults are deficient in Vitamin D levels.
Getting outside and getting sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D levels beyond diet. You should be outside and getting exposure to the sun to get vitamin D every single day for as long as you can, at a bare minimum at least 15-30 minutes. While you’re outside in the sun your skin is what absorbs vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays. Keep in mind that pollution in the ozone layer, clouds, clothes covering your skin as well as other skin creams such as lotions, serums and even sunscreens may inhibit vitamin d absorption as well. This is why I recommend completely avoiding sunscreen and ingesting foods with Lycopene prior to going into the sun and only using coconut oil topically.
What most people do not know and do completely wrong though which completely nullifies the absorption of vitamin D through the skin is washing your skin with a soap or body wash (anything other than water) within a period of up to 48 hours essentially washes the vitamin D down the drain. Vitamin D is absorbed into the bloodstream from the skin and takes around 48 hours to be fully absorbed.
You may be thinking to yourself how can I wash up in the shower if I cannot wash with soap? won’t I smell? You can still wash areas with soap that weren’t exposed to sunshine. Areas such as your groin and armpits can be cleaned with soap, and let’s be honest, these areas smell the most anyway! This may sound extreme but your skin also carries a naturally produced oil called sebum and by washing this off every time in the shower you lose the benefits to your skin. Sebum naturally hydrates and protects your skin and when washed off your skin daily your skin will become dehydrated.
Keep in mind that Lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries) prevents UV damage by 25% alone in and of itself. Coconut oil keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized and provides a protective healthy fat layer to protect the skin also. These can be used in place of sunscreen to increase vitamin D absorption which is fundamentally needed for all cells in the body for healthy biochemical function.
So what are you going to do next time you take a shower after being in the sun for the next few days? wash your hair, armpits and groin with that natural soap but leave the majority of your skin alone!