I grew up on Long Island where it was completely normal to be super blonde and tan, all the time. So that’s how I did it back then (I’ve even included the picture to prove it – that’s tan for me!), when I was more interested in fitting in and not thinking about the later effects of too much sun or being naturally me.
When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I was in the doctor’s office two to three times a week for light-therapy. Boy, were my friends jealous – doctor and parent approved tanning!
Fast forward 12 years: living as I should, as a natural, brunette in Manhattan, I haven’t really had a tan in about 5 years and am in a very serious relationship with sunscreen. My natural skin tone best resembles a little guy named Caspar, sprinkled with red polka dots, and I’m perfectly happy with that. Right after high school, my grandfather was diagnosed with skin cancer and struggled heavily with it up until his death. It’s extremely hard to watch someone you love constantly going in and out of the doctor to be cut and sewn back up.
But studies show, the sun is pretty magical when it comes to helping people with psoriasis, specifically UVB. Studies also show that people with psoriasis may be deficient in Vitamin D. Shouldn’t that mean that my insurance company is funding my next tropical vacation?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the Institute of Medicine recently lowered their daily recommendation for vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) for most people between the ages of 1 and 70. The AAD recommends that you get your daily dose from foods that are naturally rich in or fortified with vitamin D, or from supplements. Unfortunately, we don’t all live in sunny climates, so alternative ways to get your vitamin D include:
- Fatty Fish: like salmon, trout, mackerel & eel (Bonus: heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids)
- Canned Fish: specifically light tuna & sardines
- Eggs, with the yolk
- Vitamin D supplements
There are also ways to get Vitamin D through foods that have been fortified with the vitamin, such as milk and milk alternatives (soy, almond, rice), some orange juice brands and some brands of oatmeal.
And if you’re outside in the sun for some natural Vitamin D, like the song says: WEAR SUNSCREEN!
For additional information about sun safety & light-therapy, check out the National Psoriasis Foundation.