Vitamin D is a crucial micronutrient that your body needs to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones and muscles. A deficiency can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get vitamin D without risking excessive sun exposure. These include avoiding too much sun, wearing sunscreen and taking vitamin D supplements.
Avoiding Sun Exposure
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins your body needs to stay healthy. It helps you absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health, and it keeps your immune system functioning properly.
However, excessive sun exposure can also lead to skin damage and can cause melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. It is possible to get vitamin D without risking too much of this damage by taking a few simple precautions.
Tip #1: During the summer and spring, give your arms, legs, and back about 10 minutes of uncovered sun exposure three times a week. This will help your body produce enough vitamin D to maintain healthy blood levels.
People who live at higher altitudes, like those in mountainous areas, may face a greater risk of getting vitamin D deficiency. This is because the air is thinner at high altitudes, and it can be more difficult for UV rays to penetrate.
Sunlight is the best natural way to get vitamin D, but it can also cause sunburns and skin cancer. The key is to use sunscreen to protect the skin from the harmful UVB rays.
A person’s skin color, time of day and amount of skin exposed to the sun all affect how quickly the body can produce vitamin D. Those with darker skin may need longer than lighter-skinned people to reach their recommended daily allowance.
Those who live far from the equator will need more sunlight to make vitamin D than those who are closer to it. Those who spend a lot of time indoors or who don’t eat enough vitamin D-rich foods also may be at risk for low levels of the vitamin, Lim says.
The best way to get vitamin D is to expose the entire body, especially the back, to the sun. It takes about 15 minutes of unprotected, direct sun to make adequate vitamin D in a light-skinned person, according to the Vitamin D Council.
Taking Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D is made by the body in the sun, but it can be hard to get enough of it through diet and sunlight alone. Taking supplements can help you meet your daily needs and reduce your risk of developing vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D can also help your body absorb calcium, which is important for bone health. If you have low levels of this nutrient, you may experience symptoms including pain and swelling in your joints, brittle or misshapen bones, and muscle weakness.
If you want to take vitamin D supplements, be sure not to exceed the recommended dose of 10 micrograms a day, which is safe for most people. Taking too much of this nutrient can cause hypercalcaemia, which can lead to osteoporosis and other problems.
To safely make vitamin D from the sun, aim to get about 10 minutes of sunlight each day. If you have darker skin, you may need more sunlight than that to generate the same amount of vitamin D.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but it can also be harmful to your skin if you stay in it too long. Exposure to too much sunlight can lead to sunburns, eye damage and skin aging.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to get enough vitamin D without risking excessive sun exposure. Spending 10-30 minutes in the sun 3 times a week, for instance, will help maintain healthy levels of this important micronutrient.
But the amount of vitamin D your body can make from sunlight depends on a number of factors, including your skin color and where you live in relation to the equator. For example, people with pale skin can produce more vitamin D from the sun than those with darker skin.
In addition, certain health conditions can impair your body’s ability to absorb or produce vitamin D. For example, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease can reduce vitamin D absorption. Lactose intolerance or milk allergies can limit vitamin D production in breastfed infants.