Showering after Sun Exposure Lowers Vitamin D Levels
First, it’s important to understand that vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone that’s formed when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. However, the vitamin D3 that is formed is on the surface of your skin does not immediately penetrate into your bloodstream. It actually needs to be absorbed from the surface of your skin into your bloodstream. The critical question then is: how long does it take the vitamin D3 to penetrate your skin and reach your bloodstream?
If you’re thinking about an hour or two, then you’re wrong. Because new evidence shows it takes up to 48 hours before you absorb the majority of the vitamin D that was generated by exposing your skin to the sun! TWO WHOLE DAYS!
Therefore, if you shower with soap, you will simply wash away much of the vitamin D3 your skin generated, and decrease the benefits of your sun exposure. So to optimize your vitamin D level, you need to delay washing your body with soap for about two full days after sun exposure.
Other Reasons to Avoid the Shower
Avoiding the shower can also benefit your health in a number of other ways, because unless you have well water, you’re showering in water from a municipal water supply that is loaded with chlorine, fluoride, disinfection by products, and pharmaceutical drugs that have made their way into the sewer system.
Chlorine, although it’s best avoided as much as possible, is actually not the major issue. The biggest danger comes from the byproducts created when chlorine combines with organic material in the water. These disinfection byproducts (DBPs), such as trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) are EXTREMELY toxic. Some experts believe them to be over 10,000 times more toxic than chlorine. They’re so dangerous, in fact, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the goal limit for some of them at zero. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to enforce, which means you always have some in your municipal water supply.
DBPs have been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, and human studies suggest that lifetime consumption of chlorine-treated water can more than double the risk of bladder and rectal cancers in certain individuals. Unfortunately, studies have shown DBPs may wreak even more havoc when they’re absorbed through your skin. For example, one study published in the Journal of Environmental Sciences last year found that swimming in a chlorinated pool presented an unacceptable cancer risk. You can easily absorb as many DBP toxins in one shower as you would by drinking tap water all week long, so the less time you spend in the shower, the better.
How Sunshine Could Lower Your Vitamin D Levels
It’s important to realize that vitamin D3 is formed from exposure to UVB rays, whereas UVA radiation actually destroys vitamin D. This helps keep your body in balance; it’s one of the protective mechanisms your body has to avoid overdosing on vitamin D when you’re outside. However, when you’re exposed to sunlight through windows -- in your office, your home or your car -- you get the UVA but virtually none of the beneficial UVB.
This can lead to significant health problems, because in addition to destroying vitamin D3, UVA’s also increase oxidative stress.
UVA is one of the primary culprits behind skin cancer, and it increases photo aging of your skin. It’s also what causes you to tan. You can actually get vitamin D without significantly darkening your skin, because the UVB wavelength does not stimulate the melanin pigment to produce a tan.
Normally, of course, when you get tanned from outdoor sun exposure you’re getting both UVA and UVB at the same time, so it’s not a problem. But when you are indoors and expose yourself to sunlight filtered through window glass, you are increasing your risk of a variety of conditions, primarily skin cancer, because the UVA’s are effectively destroying your vitamin D3 levels while you’re getting none of the benefits from UVB.
The Connection Between Cholesterol and Healthy Vitamin D Levels
One of the precursors for vitamin D is cholesterol. So if you’re taking drugs statin drugs, or proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec or Prevocid, which are typically used to treat ulcer conditions, you’ll naturally lower your cholesterol levels. This in turn will decrease your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. This is yet another potential reason your vitamin D levels may be low, or why you may have trouble optimizing your vitamin D levels.
Source: Dr. Joseph Mercola
Several points here that are important take home messages:
Firstly, the skin is a bidirectional organ that not only eliminates sweat and wastes but also absorbs nutrients and other harmful chemicals. Putting something on your skin is as good as putting it in your mouth because it can absorb over time. Two full days to absorb the vitamin D is a bit longer than most people would be expected to refrain from bathing. Rather than avoid bathing, simply avoid using soap on the skin except those areas that need it most—you know where- the pits, groin, and feet.
This is a healthy practice not only for vitamin D assimilation but for immune protection on multiple levels. The skin builds up a natural “acid mantle” that consists of your natural oils and creates a naturally acidic pH. This is used as a barrier to protect against invaders. If this is washed off with an alkaline soap on a daily basis, it means that your body has one less defense mechanism against the bugs of the outside world. As well, a mentor of mine had taught that nutrients were more able to be lost through the skin, such as vitamin C, if we washed with soap and water on a daily basis. Remember the skin is bidirectional—if the good can go in then it can also go out! He taught that during the winter we should never use soap because we were more likely to become susceptible to illness—this was almost 50 years ago he came up with this!
Because we have a bi-directional skin, the purity of the water we bathe in should be as pure as the water that we drink. Several of the common water toxins are mentioned above. What isn’t mentioned is the degree of oxidation that can occur in the lungs from breathing hot chlorinated vapors. Studies have also shown that chlorine inside the body can create oxidation in the cardiovascular system increasing inflammation. The effects are numerous and the solution is simple: get a filter for your shower! If you have city water or water that has been treated with chlorine or flourine then get an inexpensive shower filter to remove the chemicals. You will be impressed how much healthier your skin feels when it is bathed in pure water. Remember chlorine is very drying to the skin so people that have chronic dry skin may actually be experiencing the effect of chronically chlorinated city water. Please check with our office for the best prices anywhere on shower filters for your home.
The final points have to do with having exposure through glass and medications. Being exposed through glass with light is a constant everyday occurrence. If UVA is not paired with the UVB it actually can decrease vitamin D levels. Interesting- one more reason to make sure you are getting outside and getting your vitamin D levels checked. (optimal range 60-80 ng/ml).
If you are on medications, of course you will want to make sure you see a health minded physician so you can be guided how to heal the body so you may be able to decrease or discontinue the medications safely. If you are unable to change your medication doses, please again, get your vitamin D levels checked to insure you are in optimal range.
Wash with Care!
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