By Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon Mr Siva Kumar
Vitamin D is required by your body to maintain bone and muscle health. There is also increasing evidence that demonstrates the benefits it has in maintaining your skin's condition and robustness.
Vitamin D helps the outer layers of your skin to repair itself from general wear and tear. Lack of vitamin D can cause thinning of the skin making the skin more fragile and less hydrated, in turn causing dryness and wrinkles. Therefore, the sunshine vitamin is essential for maintaining healthy-looking skin and appropriate sun exposure is important in helping the skin to synthesise the necessary amounts. But this is not a reason to over-expose your body to UV radiation!
Typical British weather means that we struggle to get the balance of UV radiation right. Levels of vitamin D plunge when the nights draw in- a recent survey found that 50% of the UK population is deficient in vitamin D and 16% have a severe deficiency during winter months. Those at heightened risk are people who spend a lot of their lives indoor, people with darker skin, and people that conceal their skin with clothing.
How to give yourself a vitamin D boost
A fair skinned person only requires 20 to 30 minutes of sun two or three times a week to make enough vitamin D. In addition, a diet rich in oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified breakfast cereals and margarine can help to top up your body’s resource.
The government now recommends that everyone take a vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months. These supplements are cheap to buy and available ‘off the shelf’ at all pharmacies and supermarkets.
UVA and UVB: The difference explained
The sunlight that reaches us is composed of two types of harmful radiation, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Of these, UVA penetrates deep into the skin and is responsible for damaging elastin, a key component that keeps our skin looking younger.
Repeated damage will lead to wrinkles and other forms of sun ageing such as a leathery look and texture to your skin and brown pigmentation. UVB tends to damage the superficial layers of the skin and is responsible for causing sunburn and the development of skin cancers.