The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can happen very quickly (just 15 minutes for a very fair skinned person) particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.
Exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day. In fact, your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D in just a little under the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. You make the most vitamin D when you expose a large area of your skin, such as your back, rather than a small area such as your face or arms.
There are a number of factors that affect how much vitamin D your body produces when your skin is exposed to sunlight. These include the time of year and time of day, where you live in the world and the type of skin you have.
The amount of vitamin D you get from exposing your bare skin to the sun depends on:
- The time of day – your skin produces more vitamin D if you expose it during the middle of the day.
- Where you live – the closer to the equator you live, the easier it is for you to produce vitamin D from sunlight all year round.
- The colour of your skin – pale skins make vitamin D more quickly than darker skins.
- The amount of skin you expose – the more skin your expose the more vitamin D your body will produce.
Check out the app dminder to optimise Vitamin D levels while staying safe in the sun.
Protecting the Skin
While covering up to prevent too much sun exposure is an important step in protecting yourself from skin cancer, research has not always shown that sunscreen is the safest and most effective method.
Research has shown that sunscreen helps prevent squamous cell carcinoma, but has no effect in preventing basal cell carcinoma. For melanoma, research has been contradictory. Some research shows that sunscreen prevents melanoma, while other research shows that it increases your chance of getting melanoma.
For these reasons, the Vitamin D Council believes that covering up with clothing and/or going into the shade (after you get a little bit of sun exposure), is a safer way to protect yourself from too much sun exposure.
Another alternative is to use a non-nano barrier sunscreen after you have gotten enough sun exposure for Vitamin D production.