Not only is summer still in full swing, but it actually gets a bit hotter in August before the temperature winds down in the fall. That means a lot of people do a fairly logical thing and stay inside to avoid the excessive Texas heat.
I get that! However, I also get that vitamin D offers some profound benefits for your immune system, in the same way oral health does (as we discussed last month), so it’s important not to neglect this key vitamin.
Here’s why Vitamin D is so important, and what you can do to get enough of it without hurting yourself in the process!
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a huge role in good overall health. It boosts your immune function by a factor of three to five! That can help prevent all kinds of diseases down the road, including respiratory infections, cancer, depression, and many more!
You’re probably wondering how any of this relates to oral health, though. The fact is, vitamin D has antimicrobial properties that kill off bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes gum disease!
We said in the blog post on gum disease that these bacteria harm your immune system, which then has a more difficult time fighting off the bacteria. You can stop this cycle with a combination of great oral hygiene and sufficient vitamin D!
That brings up the question: How do you get enough vitamin D?
Getting Sufficient Vitamin D
We know that sunlight exposure on your skin encourages the production of vitamin D, but we also know that sunlight comes with harmful UVA and UVB rays that lead to skin cancer (or oral cancer, in the case of your lips)! How do you balance this out to get the benefits of sunlight without the ill effects?
The answer is sunscreen!
We’ve gotten so conscious of staying out of the sun that we fail to get sufficient levels of vitamin D, but using broad-spectrum sunscreen can allow you to get sunlight on your skin while blocking UVA and UVB radiation. It might not get you as much vitamin D production as unprotected sun exposure, but it’s a good balance to strike to avoid skin cancer and keep yourself safe.
One quick note: it’s always possible to get too much of a good thing. Excessive vitamin D can causes some symptoms like nausea, pain in bones, dehydration, and fatigue.
Remember, in our office here at Marea White, DDS, we give out sunscreen chapstick for free to ensure that you keep your lips safe and healthy!
The bottom line is, some sunscreen and a healthy walk in the sunshine will help your body and your oral health. Stay safe over the rest of the summer, and get some vitamin D while the sun is out!
~Dr. Marea White