Anatomy of Skin
Love for Your Outer Layer
The skin is the largest organ of the human body. It creates a protective layer against heat, light, the environment, injury, and infection. It also helps regulate the body’s temperature, stores water, fat and vitamin D, prevents entry of bacteria, and acts as a sensory organ. On average, an adult has between 18 and 20-square feet of skin, which weighs roughly six pounds.
There are three layers in the skin:
This is the outer most layer of the skin that acts as a protective barrier against foreign bodies, infections, and the sun. The epidermis contains melanocytes (cells involved in pigment production) and langerhans cells, which play a role in the immune system. It is also responsible for vitamin D production.
The middle layer of the skin houses the dermis houses hair follicles, sebaceous (oil) glands, sweat glands, capillaries (small blood vessels), and lymph vessels. The dermis provides nutritional and structural support through a collagen and elastin matrix and helps with regulating the body’s temperature. It also contains pain and touch receptors.
This is the deepest layer of the skin containing larger blood vessels, nerves, and fat cells. The subcutaneous layer helps protect against injury and conserve body heat.
Anatomy of Skin Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in the United States, it is also a global issue as well. Few foods in our diet provide an ample source of Vitamin D, save for fortified foods such as milk which many people cannot drink or choose not to for dietary reasons. Fish and liver meats are a great source of vitamin D, but unless you eat them multiple times a week you may find yourself coming short of the optimal levels agreed upon by the medical community.
The exact percentage of people deficient in this important vitamin varies as it depends highly on which groups are assessed as well as location. For example, those who live above a certain latitude (37 degrees North) in the United States are at much greater risk for vitamin D deficiency than us lucky Floridians who can get an ample amount with a responsible amount of sun exposure.
Vitamin D is a prohormone that was once thought only to be of major importance to skeletal and bone health but has since been found to be key in several major hormonal responses in the body. In layman’s terms, vitamin D is exceedingly important for your vitality and energy levels as well as hormone balance.
Get Vitamin D from the Sun Safely
The best way to receive vitamin D is from direct sunlight. However, it’s well known that the powerful UVB (and UVA) radiation that direct sunlight exposes you to can be harmful not only to your overall health by magnifying the chances of skin cancer, but it can also prematurely age your skin due to damage and wear from the exposure.
Safely getting vitamin D from the sun comes down to exposing yourself responsibly to the sun for a “goldilocks” amount of time. Experts agree on a range of 10-30 minutes a few times a week being sufficient enough depending on your complexion. Lighter skinned individuals have an easier time getting vitamin D from the sun and require far less exposure.
If you are going to spend more than this amount of time outside, it is best to use a good sunscreen to protect your skin.