Which is more important: Vitamin D or SPF?

Dear Annie: Lately, I’ve been reading that people aren’t getting enough vitamin D. But I also hear that people should wear sunscreen more regularly. Doesn’t wearing sunscreen limit the amount of vitamin D absorbed by your skin? How can we get more vitamin D while still wearing sunscreen every day? I hear that supplements are never as good as naturally occurring vitamins (in food, from the sun, etc.). I don’t want vitamin D deficiency! — Disconcerted About Vitamin D

Dear Disconcerted: Vitamin D is indeed important. It’s one component of good bone health, as it helps our bodies absorb calcium. Humans evolved to be able to get all the vitamin D we need from the sun. But these days, we aren’t out in the sun long enough for that to be sufficient — and if we were, we’d be exposing ourselves to damaging, cancer-causing UV rays.

Fortunately, there are other options. There are a few things you can eat that naturally contain vitamin D — mostly seafood, such as salmon and trout, but also portobello mushrooms that have been grown outside. More likely than not, you’ll need to rely on foods that have been fortified with vitamin D or take a supplement to meet your daily nutritional needs. You are correct that naturally occurring sources of vitamins and minerals are preferable to supplements, but something is better than nothing. In the U.S., milks (including most nondairy milks) are fortified with vitamin D, as are many orange juices and cereals. You may also want to take a vitamin D supplement with your largest meal of the day — but don’t overdo it. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, some recent studies have suggested that taking too much vitamin D can be harmful.

Keep wearing sunscreen. Harvard Health notes that “very few people put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB light.” The benefits you stand to gain from blocking out the sun’s UV rays are worth risking getting less vitamin D.

Dear Annie: This is in response to “To Go or Not to Go,” who is refusing to attend her son’s wedding because she doesn’t approve of his bride. Your advice was good, but I don’t think you went far enough.

Does this person not realize how controlling and hypocritical she is? That, too, is a form of abuse. First she has no contact with the bride-to-be for months, and then she buys her a diamond bracelet to make amends when her emotional blackmail doesn’t work. And now she refuses to go to the wedding because it’s not on a convenient date for her and her husband. The date is none of their business. Neither is anything else to do with the relationship.

Please advise people to stay out of their children’s personal lives unless there is real physical or emotional abuse.

If this young man is making the wrong choice — which is entirely possible at the age of 25 — it will be a learning experience for him, and it is his, not their, decision to make.

I dealt with a controlling mother-in-law for years. No one could please her. She made my husband’s and my lives miserable, as well as those of her other children. Thanks for listening. — Been on the Other Side

Dear Been on the Other Side: And thank you for writing. You make an excellent point — that even if this young man is making a mistake, it’s his mistake to make, and family should not interfere unless there is abuse.

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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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