Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in maintaining our overall health, yet many people do not get enough of it. It helps to strengthen our bones, support the functioning of our muscles, and regulate our immune system.
While we can obtain vitamin D from various dietary sources, one of the most natural and effective ways to get vitamin D is by exposing ourselves to sunlight.
Vitamin D is made from the cholesterol in our skin when it’s exposed to the sun, so getting enough sunlight is very important for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels.
However, too much sunlight comes with its own health risks, and thus getting vitamin D from sunlight requires some precautions to ensure that we do not cause harm to our skin. This article explains how to get vitamin D safely from sunlight.
How is sunlight the Natural Source of Vitamin D
It is for a good reason that vitamin D is called “the sunshine vitamin,” as sunlight is the most significant source of vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it triggers the production of vitamin D in our bodies. Specifically, the UVB rays in sunlight are absorbed by the cholesterol present in our skin cells, which then converts into vitamin D. However, the amount of vitamin D produced by our skin is dependent on various factors such as the time of day, season, and latitude. Skin color and age.
Role of Vitamin D in our body
Vitamin D has many roles in our body, and it is essential for optimal health. For example, it commands the cells in our guts to absorb phosphorus and calcium, which are two minerals that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones.
On the contrary, if someone is low on vitamin D levels, they are linked to serious health consequences, which include cancer, clinical depression, muscle weakness, and, in very rare cases, death.
If you are someone who isn’t getting enough sunlight, then there are a handful of foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D. These include cod liver oil, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, sardines, and egg yolks.
How to Get Vitamin D from Sunlight
I have mentioned that you can get Vitamin D in abundance from sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you have to go and stand in the sunlight from morning to noon. Getting vitamin D from sunlight requires some precautions to ensure that you do not cause harm to your skin. Here are a few steps that you can follow to get vitamin D safely from sunlight.
Start slowly if you are someone who is not used to sunlight exposure. Start by spending a few minutes outdoors and gradually increasing your exposure to the sun. This will allow your skin to adjust to the sun’s rays and reduce the risk of sunburn.
But before starting, you have to determine the optimal time to sunbathe yourself.
The optimal time to get Vitamin D is when the sun’s rays are most potent, which is typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its highest point. During this time, the UVB rays are most intense, which allows your skin to produce more vitamin D in very little time.
Avoid using sunscreen when your aim is to obtain vitamin D from sunlight. Sunscreen does the obvious: it protects your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, but it also blocks the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D production. It is recommended that you spend 10-15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen and then apply it to prevent sunburns.
Staying hydrated is important when spending time in the sun. Thus, drink plenty of water before, during, and after sunbathing to prevent dehydration.
Your skin color may affect vitamin D production. People who have darker skin have more melanin than people with lighter skin, and their melanin pigments are also larger and darker.
Melanin assists in protecting the skin against damage from excess sunlight, acts as a natural sunscreen, and absorbs the sun’s UV rays to defend against sunburn and skin cancer.
Regular skin exposure to sunlight is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. It is recommended to spend 10-30 minutes in the midday sunlight to maintain healthy blood levels, several times per week.
Factors that can affect your ability to make vitamin D from sunlight include the time of day, your skin color, how much skin you expose to the sunlight, and whether or not you wear sunscreen.
If you are planning to stay in the sun for a while, it is best advised to apply sunscreen after 10-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to help prevent sunburn and skin cancer.