The research is clear - don’t let your doctor scare you away from the sun. Responsible Sunshine Exposure is crucial to bone health as well as many other important functions of the body.
Sunbathing is an important and vital step toward getting vitamin D. In case you didn't know, it’s the best way to get vitamin D. But what if I told you that there’s one easy trick that can let you maximize the amount of vitamin D you’ll get when you sunbathe.
Vitamin D supplementation is a good idea, in addition to sun exposure. In other words, you need both. Bear in mind that during the winter, you should increase your supplemental vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sunlight.
Vitamin D is very important to your overall health, particularly your bone health. Here are just some of the health benefits of vitamin D:
Decreased risk of chronic disease Decreased risk of contracting influenza, colds, and other contagious illnesses Regulation of calcium and phosphorous in bone remodeling Maintenance of blood calcium levels Stimulation of intestinal calcium absorption Some of these health benefits are because…
Vitamin D is Also a Hormone Yes, this vitamin has a dual function. Because of this unique trait, vitamin D plays a vital role in an untold number of body functions. It has the ability to “turn off” or “turn on” certain genes in the body, thereby making it an indispensable component of a properly functioning body.
Inevitably, the question of how much vitamin D we need each day comes up. And this will amaze you: a study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has shown that just one 20-minute exposure to summer sun in Hawaii wearing a bathing suit produced between 15,000 and 20,000 IU of vitamin D3.1
The best part is that you can’t “overdose” on vitamin D obtained from sunlight. Your skin will automatically shut the process off when you’ve made enough of this vitamin, even if you are still in the sunlight when you’ve reached your maximum.
If you are in doubt as to your vitamin D levels, a simple blood test can let you know exactly where you are. Then you can customize your sun exposure and oral supplements to create the optimal levels of vitamin D in your body.
The ‘Shadow’ Trick The trick to getting the most Vitamin D out of your daily sun exposure is to sunbathe when your shadow is shorter than your height. This means that in the winter, with the sunlight at a slant, your optimal sunbathing time is greatly narrowed down.
Typically, you’ll get the most vitamin D if you go out between 10am and 2pm. That’s about the only window of time when your shadow will be shorter than your height. And that’s when the UVB rays, which are what you need to make vitamin D, are at their strongest, and the time when most will tell you to hide from the sun!
But remember, the key to avoiding skin damage such as premature aging of the skin or the dreaded melanoma, is to keep sun exposure during these times for a short duration.
Summing It Up Expose as much skin as possible to the sun, aiming for full-body sun exposure for 20 minutes (20 for light-skinned individuals and 30 for those who are darker-skinned). This might be impossible if it’s too cold outside, so that’s where my next suggestion is important. You can use a sun lamp if you live in an area where it’s too cold or there just isn’t any sun during the winter (or too little to make use of it). Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and be certain that your sun lamp is made for the purpose of vitamin D supplementation.
Don’t wear any sunblock or sunscreen while you’re sunbathing for Vitamin D production. If you’re fair-skinned or haven’t exposed your skin to the sun for a long period of time, pay special attention, especially at the beginning, to make sure you never allow your skin to get burned (a pink tone is OK, though).
And here’s another piece of positive information: remember that your mood will likely improve in the process. Lack of sunlight can send many people into a slump. Exposure to light is an easy and effective remedy for the blues.
What are you waiting for? Get outside and soak up some Vitamin D.