To increase your vitamin D levels, your best bet is to go out and get some sunlight, rather than simply going back to your diet (since most foods don’t contain vitamin D naturally). That also means that if you don’t get a lot of sunlight regularly, you may very well be vitamin D deficient. If so, you are not alone: Researchers estimate that approximately 40% of adults in the United States are deficient in vitamin D, which can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and joint pain.
This “solar vitamin” helps the body and the immune system in different ways. Vitamin D helps regulate the amounts of calcium and phosphate within the body. People with low vitamin D levels may experience problems regarding the health of their muscles, teeth, and bones if left untreated. Not only that, but low vitamin D levels can sometimes lead to rickets in children or can cause mood swings in some people. Because vitamin D plays such an important role in the body, having the right amount is essential.
Not sure how to get vitamin D from the sun? Below are our top tips on Vitamin D and sunlight to help you get more of this vital nutrient.
The right way to get vitamin D from the sun
According to studies, 70-90 percent of Indians are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is a unique vitamin, which is produced from cholesterol in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Therefore, it is said that it is important to get enough sun to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D (unless you take supplements). But, too much exposure to sunlight also has its own set of health risks. Here in this article, we tell you the safe way to get the maximum vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D and COVID 19
Studies have shown that optimal levels of vitamin D in the body help keep your immunity tight and tight, which is of utmost importance in today’s pandemic times. Low levels of vitamin D lower your immunity and are linked to various health conditions, including osteoporosis, cancer, depression, muscle weakness, and even death.
Vitamin D rich foods
In addition to this, there are only a handful of foods that have a significant amount of vitamin D. The list includes cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and sardines.
To get enough vitamin D, one needs to eat some of these foods daily. If your diet does not provide you with enough vitamin D, it is recommended to take vitamin D supplements and get some sun to maintain optimal levels in the body. There is a reason why vitamin D is called the sun vitamin. Sunbathing is the most natural way to get vitamin D. Here are 3 things you need to do to safely get the maximum vitamin D from the sun.
The best time to be in the sun
The best time to sunbathe and get your maximum vitamin D is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Right now UVB rays are intense and the body is also said to be more efficient at producing vitamin D right now. This time is also considered safer for sun exposure, as getting the sun during the latter part of the day is said to also increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
The parts of the body that are exposed to the sun to get more vitamin D
Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in the skin, which means that one needs to expose a lot of skin to sunlight to get enough vitamin D. Expose your arms, legs, back, and abdomen for more vitamin D. Don’t forget to expose your back as it allows your body to produce the maximum amount of vitamin D. You can choose to wear a tank top and shorts. You should wear your hat and glasses to protect your face and eyes.
How long must you spend in the sun to get enough vitamin D?
According to the Vitamin D Council, people with light-colored skin need about 15 minutes in the sun, while people with dark-colored skin may need an hour or more.
How the color of the skin can affect the production of vitamin D in the body
The color of our skin is determined by a pigment called melanin. People with darker skin have more melanin compared to people with lighter skin. Melanin acts as a protector that saves your skin from excess sunlight. It is like a natural sunscreen barrier that absorbs UV rays and defends the skin against sunburn and skin cancers.
But this also means that people with dark skin need to spend more hours in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D that people with lighter skin can produce in less time. This also makes people with dark skin more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
Can sunscreen affect vitamin D levels?
We use sunscreen to protect our skin against skin cancers and sunburn. Sunscreen has chemicals that reflect, absorb, or scatter sunlight. When this happens, the skin is exposed to lower levels of the harmful UVB rays.
But UVB rays are important in producing vitamin D, and sunscreen can prevent skin from producing sunlight. Studies show that sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher reduces the body’s production of vitamin D by 95-98 percent. Therefore, if you use sunscreen, you may have to spend long hours in the sun for your skin to make enough vitamin D.
Harmful effects of too much sunlight
Although sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, too much sun can be dangerous to your skin. Here are some consequences of exposing yourself to too much sunlight.
- Sunburn: This is one of the most common side effects of too much sunlight. Symptoms of sunburn include redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, or blisters on the skin.
- Eye damage: Excessive exposure to UVB rays can damage the retina, which can increase the risk of cataracts.
- Aging of the skin: spending too much time in the sun can make your skin age faster. Some people develop wrinkles and their skin becomes loose and leathery.
- Heat Stroke: Heat stroke also called heatstroke is a condition in which the core body temperature rises due to excessive exposure to the sun.
- Skin Cancer: Too much UVB light is a major cause of skin cancer types.
Bottom line on right way to get vitamin D from the sun
Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. But don’t expose yourself too much and cover dark-colored glasses to avoid eye damage. If your profession requires you to be out in the sun for longer hours, apply sunscreen.
Note: UVB rays from the sun cannot penetrate through the window. So people sitting next to sunny windows don’t get vitamin D from the sun, contrary to what they think.