Sunbeds – the saviours of the winter slog?
We all know that vitamin D is essential for us to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. However throughout the winter months, keeping our levels up can be a bit of a challenge. The NHS tells us that we can only create vitamin D from direct sunlight between early April and late September. This gives us a seven month gap where we can’t absorb the sun’s UV exposure and ultimately vitamin D.
A deficiency in vitamin D is more likely during the winter period due to the lack of sunlight, however this deficiency has also become more and more common thanks to office jobs and children spending more time indoors. Lacking in The Sunshine Vitamin can lead to multiple health problems such as a loss of bone density and a weaker immune system not to mention an increase in mental health issues like depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the elderly, this deficiency can result in diseases such as osteoporosis, whereas children can suffer from rickets.
Clearly, a lack of this magic vitamin should be avoided and there are multiple ways of doing this:
- Vitamins and supplements
- UV exposure
There are few foods which naturally contain vitamin D, such as egg yolks, fatty fish and mushrooms. What’s more, you can also get vitamin D through fortified foods such as dairy and soy products.
Vitamins and Supplements
The Sunshine Vitamin is present in most multivitamins. If someone is considered to be deficient in vitamin D, supplements are the main source of treatment.
Nonetheless research has shown that food and supplements are not the most effective form of absorbing vitamin D. The NHS explains that it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone. However Claire Sissons tells us that having too much [vitamin D] in the body is usually caused by taking supplements. Where lacking in this vitamin can be harmful, so can having too much. This can raise the levels of calcium in the blood and affect your heart negatively. This demonstrates how diet and supplements are not the most effective way of getting The Sunshine Vitamin.
Sissons goes on to say that “it is not possible for the body to make too much vitamin D from sun exposure.”
Indeed the most effective way of absorbing vitamin D is through UV exposure. It is impossible to have too high an intake.
In the summer this makes absorbing enough of this vitamin simple. Simply spending a few minutes outside without SPF every afternoon can keep levels high, leading to better moods, stronger bones and an improved general wellbeing. However through autumn and winter, trying to sunbathe in the UK is pointless… at least, outdoor tanning is.
Yet many people seem to overlook a simple answer to remedy the lack of winter sunlight. Sunbeds.
Although the lamps are artificial, the UV irradiation emitted from them isn’t. It replicates the sun’s rays and allows you to absorb vitamin D as you would outside during the summer. Thanks to the 0.3 EU regulation, sunbed lamps can only be as strong as the midday Mediterranean sun, therefore spending a few minutes on a sunbed is hardly any more powerful than going outside for the same period of time without SPF during our summer. The UV exposure from sunbeds is controlled, minimising the risk of skin damage.
Therefore using a sunbed once or twice a week for a few minutes could help maintain not only a year long healthy glow, but also healthy vitamin D levels. Overall, this could contribute to a better immune system and the prevention of diseases as well as better mental health.