Vitamin D is commonly referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin.’ It is because vitamin D from sunlight is the best source for getting the nutrient.
Vitamin D is essential for optimal health as it aids the cells in the gut to absorb calcium and phosphorus. The two minerals are needed for maintaining strong and healthy bones. A low level of this vitamin in the body is linked to multiple health issues such as osteoporosis, depression, muscle weakness, and even cancer.
Many people lack this unique vitamin these days. It is estimated that more than 50% of adults in America have a vitamin D deficiency. It is seen that the sun’s UVB rays cannot enter through glass. So, people sitting close to sunlit windows are still disposed to getting the deficiency.
Vitamin D from Sunlight is the Best Source
Undoubtedly, the sun is one of the best sources to replenish vitamin D in your body. This vitamin is made from cholesterol present in the skin when it is exposed to the sun.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays use the cholesterol in the skin cells to release the energy needed for vitamin D creation to happen. Thus, it is imperative to get a substantial amount of sunlight for maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D.
Exposure to the sun is the best source as there are only a few foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D. Midday, especially in summers, is the best time to get sunlight. However, excess exposure to sunlight, especially in the afternoon, can increase the risk of dangerous skin cancers and other health hazards.
Factors Affecting Absorption of Vitamin D from Sunlight
Certain dynamics of your skin, such as skin colour, can affect your ability to make vitamin D from sunlight. People with darker skin such as Asians have more melanin than people having lighter skin colour such as Europeans and Americans.
Melanin acts as a natural sunscreen and helps protect the skin against any damage caused by excess sunlight. But melanin also impedes the process of absorption of Vitamin D from sunlight. Darker-skinned people need to expose their bodies to the sun for a greater period of time as compared to lighter-skinned people to get the required dose of this vitamin. This is the reason why darker-skinned people have a higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
Also, people living extremely away from the equator need more sunlight because the sun’s UV rays are very weak in these areas. Other factors include how much skin you expose to sunlight and whether you are wearing a good quality sunscreen lotion.
Safer Options for Getting Vitamin D from Sunlight
Systematic and consistent exposure to sunlight is one the most natural ways to get enough dose of vitamin D. Try to get ten to twenty minutes of the midday sun, depending on the skin tone. Doing it 2-3 times a week can help to maintain healthy vitamin levels in the body.
Exposure time to sunlight depends on the sensitivity quotient of your skin. Ensure that the skin does not suffer any damages such as skin burns. Expose your back for fifteen minutes, if your skin is light, and a couple of hours, if you are dark-skinned.
Apply Sunscreen Lotion
While sunlight is excellent for vitamin D production, excessive exposure can trigger harmful effects such as eye damage, sunburn, moles, and freckles.
Also, skin tends to age faster due to excess sunlight exposure. Thus, it is best to apply sunscreen lotion after at least twenty minutes of unprotected sun exposure. This will help to get the necessary vitamins while helping you avoid sunburn and other kinds of skin damage.
Replenish Vitamin D with Supplements
Experts recommend a dose of 600 IU (15 mcg) vitamin D daily. Only a few foods in your regular diet contain significant amounts of vitamins. These include egg yolk, swordfish, salmon, cod liver oil, canned tuna, beef liver, and sardines. Hence, you would need to eat them almost every day in substantial quantities to get enough vitamin D.
It is advisable to include more vitamin D-rich foods in your diet, especially during the winter months. This is because absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight is a little challenging during these months. If your lifestyle and everyday diet does not allow you to get enough of this vitamin, then it is best to take a vitamin D supplement to strengthen and protect your bones.