In this article, you will find everything you need to know about vitamin D & sunlight:
(i) How to get more vitamin D from the Sun?
(ii) What is the best time of the day to get vitamin D from the Sunlight?
(iii) How much time you need to spend in the sun to get enough amount of vitamin C? and
(iv) Does your geographical location impact efficacy of getting vitamin D from the sun and other important related issues?
DISCLAIMER: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Most people run the risk of being low in vitamin D, this explains why it has become such an important topic.
A good level of vitamin D in your body will help:
(i) Absorb calcium and phosphorus – the two important minerals that are critical for maintaining strong and healthy bones.
(ii) Keep your nerves, muscles, and immunity system working properly.
(iii) Regulate insulin levels, and thereby manage diabetes.
(iv) Strengthen lung function and cardiovascular health.
There have been a lot of research studies lately about the effects of vitamin D deficiency and they’ve been linking it to a lot of really, really very serious health conditions including osteoporosis, cancer, depression, muscle weakness and even death.
Can Sunlight Give You Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin, and rightly so – because your body can actually make it in the surface of your skin when it’s exposed to sunlight, which is really awesome, right!
The sun is probably the most sure natural way to get vitamin D. Yes guys, that’s absolutely true! And it’s so because very few foods can provide you significant amount of vitamin D.
But the thing is, several factors impact how much vitamin D your body can actually make from exposure to the sun, such as time of the day, geographical location, skin color, amount of the time you need to spend in the sun and of course sunscreen.
We are going to examine all these important factors one by one. Let’s get into it.
How To Get More Vitamin D From Sun?
What Is The Best Time To Get Vitamin D From Sunlight?
The first important factor is Time of the Day. The best times to get sun exposure and more vitamin D are either in the morning hours or during the middle of the day.
At noon you know the sun is at its highest point in the sky – so you don’t have much of a shadow. That’s the time when the UV rays are the strongest so you will need less time in the sun to make sufficient amount of vitamin D.
Midday, particularly during summer, is the best time to get sunlight. Not only is getting vitamin D around mid of a day more effective, but it might also be safer than getting sun later in the day. One study showed that afternoon sun exposure might increase the risk of skin cancer.
But then at these times you are also likely to burn fastest as you’re exposed to the highest levels of radiation. So one: limit the exposures and when you are going to be out at such times – wear a hat, wear some clothes, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.
We will talk more about this important issue later.
Skin Color And Vitamin D From Sunlight
The second important factor is your skin type & skin color. Pale color skin produces vitamin D more quickly than darker colored skins. So, the people with dark skin such as South Asians, African and African-Caribbean need to spend longer in the sun than the people with lighter skin to get the same amount of vitamin D.
According to the Vitamin D Council, people with light color skin need to spend around 15 minutes in the sun, while people with dark color skin might need an hour or even more – up to three hours.
This is a major reason why darker-skinned people have a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency. For that reason, if you have dark skin, you will need to spend a bit more time in the sun to meet your daily dose of vitamin D.
So – there’s a little bit of personal research for you to do to find out how much time you need to spend in sunshine depending upon your ethnicity, race, skin tone and color.
Amount of Skin Area Exposed To The Sun
The third important factor is the amount of skin you are going to expose. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D your body will produce. For example exposing your back will allow your body to make more vitamin D than just your hands and face.
If you wear clothing that covers most of your skin, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
You can wear a tank top and shorts so that more skin area is exposed to the sun. I suggest you wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes when your face and head are being exposed to the sun.
Where You Live
4th important factor is how close or faraway you are from the equator. If you are living in the areas farther away from the equator your skin will produce less vitamin D from the sun. Also in these areas, more of the sun’s rays, especially UVB rays, are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer. So people who live farther away from the equator usually need to spend more time in the sun to produce enough amount of vitamin D.
The closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for your body to synthesize vitamin D from the sun’s rays all year round.
For example in the United States, people in the sunnier southern states would find it easier to meet their vitamin D needs with the sun exposure than those in the northern states. This is particularly true in the winter months when the sun is lower in the sky.
If you live at northern latitude like Anchorage, Alaska, your body would produce less vitamin D during the winter than someone who lives in Miami, because Florida has more exposure to UVB rays that are necessary to produce vitamin D.
So you will need to do a bit of your own research and check this out about the place you live in.
Sunscreen And Vitamin D From Sun Exposure
5th important factor is how sunscreen is going to affect your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Many studies support the view that wearing sunscreen will limit your body’s ability to make vitamin D from the sun exposure. On the other hand spending time in the sun without sunscreen can cause sunburn and may contribute to the development of the skin cancer.
So you are in a dilemma what to do? You really need to maintain a balance between these two. A practical solution can be to avoid staying in the sun for too long. Instead, try going without sunscreen for just the first ten to thirty minutes, depending on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight, and apply sunscreen before your skin starts burning.
Another important point is if you wear sunscreen, you might have to spend longer in the sunlight for your skin to produce enough amount of vitamin D.
Here is bonus tip for you: Your body can’t make vitamin D if you are sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (that is UVB) – the ones your body needs to make vitamin D can’t get through glass.
In sum, if you go outside everyday and get reasonable exposure to the sun, your vitamin D levels should be fine.
Moreover, certain individuals may not turn on vitamin D to a usable state. Such people may find themselves at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including:
- Older people
- People with darker skin
- People who are obese
- People with liver or kidney disease
It’s important for these people to eat foods that provide vitamin D, and also fulfil their vitamin D needs from supplements in consultation with their doctor.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”