2 posts tagged “sun”

Lupus and vitamin D deficiency – get the lowdown

Posted March 8th, 2018 by

Vitamin D is nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin” because catching some rays on bare skin triggers your body to produce it naturally.

But what if lupus-related sun sensitivity (not to mention the winter weather) restricts your sun exposure? Take a peek at some key info on vitamin D deficiency, plus learn some dietary sources of this important nutrient.

What are the effects of limited sunlight?

Vitamin D deficiency is a common health issue in general, and reduced exposure to sunlight is one of the main factors. Researchers estimate that almost 50% of the world’s population – across all ethnicities and age groups – have a vitamin D deficiency. When the sun’s rays hit bare skin, it signals the body to produce its own vitamin D.

Getting vitamin D via sunshine can be especially tricky for some people with lupus who are taking steps to limit sun exposure or protect the skin with sunscreen and clothing. Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial light sources can make lupus worse in 40 to 70% of people with the condition, according to Lupus.org. Sunlight may exacerbate skin disease or skin-related symptoms in people with lupus, such as the “butterfly” rash, discoid lesions and photosensitivity.

Not everyone with lupus is affected by skin problems or sun sensitivity, so completely avoiding sunlight may not always be necessary. Talk with your doctor about sun safety and healthy levels of sunlight, in your case, as well as other factors in vitamin D deficiency (such as darker skin, kidney problems and obesity) and other good sources of vitamin D (read on!).

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D plays an important role for all people. Here are just a few of the health benefits for the general population:

  • Helps the intestine absorb calcium
  • Supports bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Helps with muscle movement and nerve function
  • Supports immune function and reduction of inflammation

For those with lupus, vitamin D is also vital because:

  • Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of kidney complications or kidney failure
  • Some initial research shows that vitamin D may play a role in controlling lupus symptoms and bolstering kidney function (but more research is needed on the role of vitamin D in lupus treatment)

What are some other sources of vitamin D?

Talk with your doctor about testing your blood level of vitamin D and the best sources of this nutrient for you. For the general population, good sources of vitamin D beyond sun exposure include:

  • Foods that contain it naturally, such as the flesh of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna (small amounts are also found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms)
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, yogurt and cereal (fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet)
  • Oral vitamin D2 or D3 supplements, taken as directed by a doctor, usually in the case of vitamin D deficiency. Talk with your provider before taking a new supplement.

The most common test for vitamin D deficiency is called 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (or ’25-OH Vit D’).

How do you get your vitamin D? Add a comment or join PatientsLikeMe today to talk about this topic with 10,000+ members living with lupus.

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Bright ideas: Members share 7 head-to-toe tips for sun safety with lupus

Posted June 9th, 2017 by

With summer just around the bend, we’ve rounded up PatientsLikeMe members’ sun-safety and photosensitivity tips for people living with lupus. Photosensitivity is increased sensitivity to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) light, sometimes causing a rash or other skin reaction.

On PatientsLikeMe, thousands of people with lupus say they’ve experienced photosensitivity – more than half of them reporting it’s “moderate” or “severe.” Here are a few ways members are coping with it…

Even more tips

“I’ve found it most effective to switch to a moisturizer and makeup with added sun protection. I also keep a floppy hat hanging by the front door for yard work.” – LilliGirl

“I have invested in several neutral, long sleeve jackets. They help by covering my arms but are athletic/highly breathable and actually keep me cooler than allowing the sun to beat down on my skin ever would.” – LilliGirl

“I find I can slowly build up a bit of ‘tolerance’ by sitting out in my garden. I start by doing 5-10 minutes for a few weeks and slowly build it to 30-40 minutes eventually.” – FABWHEELIE

Reminder: Not all sunscreens are created equal. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreens that contain the ingredient Mexoryl (which offers the best coverage, blocking UVA-1, UVA-2 and UVB rays) or Helioplex (which blocks UVA-1 and UVA-2). Also, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors to ensure it’s absorbed, and wear sunscreen even on overcast days, which also bring UV rays.

Living with lupus and photosensitivity? Check out 56 forum posts about lupus

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