“We live in a country with plenty of sunshine, so we get as much vitamin D from the sun as we need” … or not?

It is true that sun exposure provides the body with the vitamin D it needs, but it does seem that the sun is not seeing us enough. A very large part of the population is deficient in vitamin D – and this is not just for people living in countries with low sunlight, as one would reasonably assume. It also applies to those living in warmer climates and is related mainly to three factors.

  • The way of life. Staying indoors most of the day means we rely primarily on nutrition to get as much vitamin D as we need, especially in winter. But there are not many foods that contain this vitamin in abundance.
  • Darker skin. The lighter the skin, the shorter the time it takes for the body to produce the required amount of Vitamin D. People with darker skin need to be exposed to the sun for longer – up to 10 times longer than someone who has lighter skin – to make the vitamin composition.
  • Increased use of sunscreen. Protective measures against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation – staying in the shade, covering the body with clothes, sunscreen use – prevent the skin from absorbing UV-B that triggers vitamin D production.

As announced at a recent European conference on endocrinology, vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women living in the Mediterranean reaches up to 90% of this population, thereby increasing the risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature birth.

Certainly, a diet containing foods rich in vitamin D (such as fatty fish, eggs and milk, especially one enriched with vitamin D), but also supplements, can help. However, it is good to remember that the main source is the sun. A few minutes of sunbathing (depending on the skin type), before applying the sunscreen, will allow the body to synthesize the amount of vitamin D it needs.
The Doctor

Dr. Nikolopoulos maintains a private practice in ATHENS, while collaborating exclusively with MITERA’s maternity hospital and the new HYGEIA IVF Athens Assisted Reproduction Unit. At the same time, he is in charge of the Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization clinic at City Hospital, in the city of KALAMATA.