This is a vitamin that’s made by the body when it’s exposed to the sun, and that’s why it’s important to get adequate sunlight exposure if you want to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. However, too much sunlight has its own health risks. That’s why in this article, we’re looking at the safest way to get vitamin D from sunlight.
There’s a good reason why vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B, or UVB rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. So providing energy to create vitamin D.
Vitamin D has many roles in the body, and is essential for optimal health. For example, it instructs the cells in your gut to absorb calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. One the other hand, low vitamin D levels are consistently and strongly associated with some health consequences like osteopetrosis, muscle weakness, cancer, and depression.
Expose your Skin around Midday
So midday, especially around summer, is the best time to get sunlight. At noon, the sun is at it’s highest point, and it’s UVB rays are most intense. That means you need less time in the sun to make sufficient vitamin D. Many studies also show that the body is most efficient at making vitamin D at noon.
The common recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 600 international units, Supplements don’t even come close to comparing to the vitamin D we get from actual sunlight.
Skin color may affect Vitamin D production.
The color of your skin is determined by a pigment called melanin. Now those with dark skin have a lot more melanin than those with light colored skin. Melanin helps protect the skin against damage from excess sunlight. It acts as a natural sunscreen, and absorbs the sun’s UV rays to defend against sunburn and skin cancers. However, that creates a big dilemma because darker-skinned people need to spend longer in the sun than lighter-skinned people to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
Studies estimate that darker-skinned people may need anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours longer to get sufficient vitamin D, compared to lighter-skinned people. This is a major reason why dark skinned people are at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
If you live far north from the equator, in these areas, more of the sun’s rays, particularly the UVB rays, they’re absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer. So if you do live far north of the equator, you probably need to spend a little bit of extra time in the sun to get your vitamin D.
For example, people who live at the very top of the USA, and in Canada, in Northern Europe, they struggle to make any vitamin D from sunlight, between the months of November and February. Additionally people in Norway cannot make vitamin D from sunlight between October and March, like they can’t make any at all. So during this time of the year, it’s important that they get the vitamin D from foods and supplements instead.
Expose more skin to make more vitamin D.
So vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin, and that means you need to expose more of the skin to make adequate amounts of vitamin D. Some scientist recommend exposing about a third of the area of your skin so it’s typically could be just your arms and your legs.
So according to scientists recommendations, wearing a tank top and shorts for 10 to 30 minutes three times per week during the summer should be sufficient for most people with lighter skin. People with darker skin may need a bit longer than this. And just make sure to prevent getting sunburned. Instead, try going without sunscreen for just the first maybe 10 or 30 minutes, depending on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight, and apply sunscreen before you start burning of course. Sunscreen is thought to block vitamin D absorption to some extent.