Tips for How to Get Vitamin D from the Sun
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but how do you safely get vitamin D from the sun?
How much sun exposure do you need for healthy levels of vitamin D? Can I get vitamin D from the sun through my windows?
Read on for the answers to your questions and 10 tips to optimize your sun time for vitamin D production.
Vitamin D Sources
The sun is the main natural source of vitamin D.
It is present in a few foods but food sources get pretty complicated since there are 2 forms of the vitamin: D2 and D3. Your body needs D3.
Your skin converts the sun’s rays into vitamin D3.
How to Get Vitamin D from the Sun
Vitamin D potential comes from the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays combining with biochemicals in your skin.
“We each have vitamin D receptor cells that, through a chain of reactions starting with conversion of cholesterol in the skin, produce vitamin D3 when they’re exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) from the sun.”
--David J. Leffell, MD, chief of Dermatologic Surgery Yale Medicine.
The key to getting enough vitamin D from the sun is getting long enough sun exposure to bare skin.
10 Tips for Getting Vitamin D from the Sun
Here are 10 tips to turn your sun-time into healthy levels of vitamin D:
You have to be outdoors. The UVB rays don’t make it through glass.
The rays don’t pass through clothes either. Your skin has to be bare.
Sunscreen can get in the way too. You may want to allow some exposure before putting on the sunscreen. (I’m not saying dump sunscreen entirely.)
The square footage of skin exposed determines the amount of vitamin produced.
The UVB rays are strongest around 10 am to 2 pm.
There is an optimal length of exposure for each person. That time is influenced by skin color. A fair-skinned person may only need 10 to 20 minutes. People with darker skin tones (because of a tan or genetics) require longer exposure times. After the optimum time is reached, your body stops producing the vitamin.
While your body will stop making vitamin D when it has enough, longer sun exposure could lead to sunburn which has known risks for skin cancer. Some sun is good. Too much is not.
How many UVB rays make their way to your body is influenced by where you are on the planet relative to the equator, how cloudy it is, and the level of air pollution.
You can use the dminder app, created by an authority on vitamin D, Dr. Michael Holick, to help you track the potential for vitamin D exposure at different times of day wherever you are.
The vitamin needs some time after production to pass into your bloodstream. If you shower (especially if you use soap) too soon after being in the sun, you may wash off your potential for vitamin D.
Other Sources of Vitamin D
I talk about about other sources of vitamin D, plus 14 vitamin D benefits, supplement dosage and negative side effects, etc. in another post: Vitamin D3 Benefits for Depression, Anxiety, and More.
- Ann Silvers