Vitamin D and Sun Exposure

Dr. Jason Rivers, MD, FRCPC, discusses Vitamin D and health.

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Dr. Jason Rivers, MD, FRCPC, discusses Vitamin D and health.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Jason Rivers, MD, FRCPC

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Vitamin D is a vitamin that is essential for a number of health issues in our body and in recent years has been shown to be related to the prevention of a number of type of cancers including and especially colorectal cancer.

Vitamin D is in nature, synthesized primarily in our skin through exposure to ultraviolet light and can be achieved through dietary sources, though these are not that frequent.

The current controversy is that people are being told that they should get out in the sun to get their vitamin D so that they'll prevent a number of different cancers.

The problem with this is that the data is still quite premature, that we do know that sun exposure can also cause skin cancer and in Canada, or in North America at least, one person dies every hour from skin cancer.

So the issue about vitamin D and how you get it is the big controversy. It's important that tanning beds in their own right do not provide the right frequency of light or wavelength of light to activate the vitamin D in your skin.

The second thing to realize is the vitamin D in our skin saturates, so after you've been in the sun for about 15, 20 minutes, your body does not make any more vitamin D, it turns off.

And that the amount of exposure you need is only really to part of your body for about 15 minutes, three to four times a week. This all taken together means that there are ways in which you can get your vitamin D naturally, but another way of doing this is by taking a vitamin D supplement, which costs you pennies a day, is safe, and doesn't expose you to harmful ultraviolet radiation. And it will provide you with the levels you need to perhaps prevent these internal malignancies.

Presenter: Dr. Jason Rivers, Dermatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Dermatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.