The sun is one of the best vitamin D sources for the human body. The amount of vitamin D a person’s body can produce from sun exposure is affected by a number of factors, including the time of day, geographical location, skin color, and whether or not they wear sunscreen.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that the body needs. Calcium absorption requires vitamin D. Vitamin D is also important for bone development, bone repair, and immune system function.
How does the sun provide vitamin D?
The body requires a consistent supply of vitamin D for a variety of processes.
Our best natural source of vitamin D is the sun. Even a brief exposure to sunlight can provide the body with all of the vitamin D it requires for the day.
Aim for 10–30 minutes of midday sunshine many times per week to maintain appropriate blood levels. People with darker skin may require a little extra. The length of your exposure should be determined by how sensitive your skin is to sunlight. Just be careful not to overheat.
Because few foods contain large levels of vitamin D, people can guarantee they obtain enough of the vitamin by spending time outside on a regular basis.
When ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun strike a person’s skin, mechanisms within the tissue begin producing vitamin D for the body to use. It is important to note, however, that excessive sun exposure can cause skin burns and even skin cancer.
Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, which is one of the primary building elements of bone. Vitamin D is also required by the body to maintain the nerves, muscles, and immune system functioning properly.
Which factors affect Vitamin D production from sun?
- The time of day: When exposed to the sun during the middle of the day, when it is at its greatest point in the sky, the skin produces more vitamin D. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated when spending extended periods of time in the scorching heat.
- The amount of skin that is exposed: The more skin exposed, the more vitamin D the body produces. For example, exposing the back allows the body to produce more vitamin D than just the hands and face.
- Skin tone: People with darker skin have more melanin, a substance that protects the skin by lowering the quantity of UVB light absorbed. Darker-skinned people require more solar exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as lighter-skinned persons.
The location of a person’s residence in regard to the equator has a substantial impact on how much vitamin D their body can produce.
Exposure to the sun on a regular, moderate basis is beneficial, but prolonged exposure can be hazardous. It is crucial to highlight that those who spend too much time in the sun and get sunburned have a higher chance of acquiring skin cancer.
The current recommendation is that people stay in the sun for half the time it takes their skin type to burn before covering up and retiring to the shade. This should provide them with enough vitamin D without raising their risk of skin cancer.
The Dangers of Excessive Sunlight
While sunshine is beneficial for vitamin D production, too much of it can be harmful. The following are some of the consequences of excessive sunlight:
- Sunburns are the most prevalent adverse result of excessive exposure to sunshine. Sunburn symptoms include redness, swelling, discomfort or sensitivity, and blisters.
- Long-term UV radiation exposure can cause retinal damage. This increases the risk of eye illnesses such as cataracts.
- Skin aging: Excessive sun exposure can cause your skin to age faster. Some people’s skin becomes more wrinkled, loose, or leathery.
- Skin alterations: Excessive sun exposure can cause freckles, moles, and other skin changes.
- Heat stroke, often known as sunstroke, is a condition in which the body’s core temperature rises as a result of excessive heat or sun exposure.
- Skin cancer: Overexposure to UV light is a primary cause of skin cancer.
If you intend to spend a lot of time in the sun, take precautions to avoid being sunburned. The length of your exposure should be determined by how sensitive your skin is to sunlight.
Other sources of vitamin D
The sun, some meals, and vitamin D supplements are all good sources of vitamin D.
The recommended daily consumption of vitamin D from food or supplements in the United States is as follows:
- Children and teenagers: 600 international units (IU) or 15 micrograms (mcg).
- Adults up to the age of 70 years old: 600 IU or 15 mcg.
- Adults aged 71 years old and over: 800 IU or 20 mcg.
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding: 600 IU or 15 mcg.
Vitamin D can also be present in a few foods such as:
- Oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel)
- Fortified meals (certain fat spreads and morning cereals)
- Red meat
- Egg yolks