Sometimes, the sun gets a bad rap. There are a lot of warnings out there about how overexposure to sunlight can cause burns and even increase the risk of cancer. However, while it is true that you want to avoid overdoing it on your exposure to the sun’s rays, it is also important to keep in mind that sunlight isn’t all bad. In fact, soaking up some sun can actually help you to enjoy a healthier smile! This blog post discusses how that is the case.
The Power of Vitamin D
When UVB rays from the sun hit your skin, they interact with a protein in your body. That protein then gets converted into vitamin D3, which plays an important role in oral health. In fact, vitamin D has the power to:
- Promote calcium absorption. Calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones. Unfortunately, the human body cannot absorb it properly unless adequate amounts of vitamin D are present.
- Protect against tooth decay. Research suggests that vitamin D can reduce the risk of tooth decay by as much as 50%.
- Support your immune system. Vitamin D can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and lower the risk of infections. It thereby has the potential to reduce your risk of gum disease.
How Much Sunlight Do You Need?
An estimate from the National Institutes of Health states that around 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D. That is the bad news. The good news is that it is pretty easy to increase your vitamin D levels simply by spending more time outside.
Of course, the exact amount of time you should spend outside depends on a few factors, including the latitude where you live, the color of your skin, and how much of your skin is exposed. In summertime, most people need less than 30 minutes of midday sun exposure to get all the vitamin D they need for the day (some people with fair skin might need less than 10 minutes).
Keep in mind that sunscreen can significantly reduce vitamin D production. Therefore, you might want to spend a small amount of time outside without SPF on your skin. After that, though, be sure to properly protect yourself.
Other Ways to Get Vitamin D
If it is impractical for you to get your vitamin D from sun exposure, there are other ways to increase your levels of this important nutrient. For example, you could add more milk, eggs, and fatty fish into your diet. You could also consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
If you are unsure of whether you are getting enough vitamin D, you can ask your doctor to perform a simple blood test.
Are you getting enough sunlight? Whether you are hiking, lounging by the pool, or just going on a picnic with your family, the time you spend outdoors this summer could be great for your smile!
Meet the Practice
Dr. Erick Anderson and the team at Anderson Family Dental are proud to provide general oral health services to the Colorado Springs community. If you would like personalized tips on how you can care well for your teeth and gums, we would be happy to consult with you. Contact our office at 719-593-0988.