We Are Sunshine

Dermatology In the Dark on D

Friday, May 25th, 2012

While it is beyond dispute that sun exposure to the skin is the natural, intended and most-efficient source of vitamin D production, dermatology’s leaders continue to suggest that nature was wrong by promoting vitamin D supplements to the exclusion of sun exposure.

“We don’t like to advocate UV exposure as a way to get Vitamin D. Why would you expose yourself to the sun and its carcinogens when you don’t have to?” — Dr. Lynn Cornelius, chief of dermatology at Washington University in St. Louis, in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week.

Could that sentence be any more ludicrous? “The sun and its carcinogens.” No acknowledgement that sun exposure is necessary for all life on earth — calling it dangerous is akin to saying that water causes drowning, and therefore people should avoid all water. No acknowledgement that sunlight deprivation has other effects on the body besides vitamin D deficiency. Just a simple one-sided sentence.

And what is meant by “its carcinogens” — a statement that makes it sound like sunlight comes packed with a cadre of bad guys. Look at the U.S. government’s definition of “carcinogen” and you see that things called carcinogens are not necessarily carcinogenic to people in everyday dosages. Such is the case with sunshine. Since all life would cease without it, there’s obviously an intended dosage of it. And dermatology leaders — despite insisting you avoid it — can’t point to solid data saying how much you actually need to be healthy.

Vitamin D researchers, on the other hand, know that human vitamin D levels have plummeted in the last generation, according to the government’s own data. Misuse-through-overuse of sunscreen is the only plausible explanation for that one-generation decrease. Dermatology has countered that the now-lower levels we’ve arrived at are still healthy — despite the fact that vitamin D researchers universally disagree.

Vitamin D is almost completely absent in diet — unless you catch fresh fatty fish and eat it several times a week. Dermatology, in telling people to turn to diet and to take a pill, is still in the dark when it comes to vitamin D.