How Much Sunshine Should You Get Weekly For Healthy Vitamin D Levels
Several vitamins are essential for maintaining health, and of these, vitamin D is one of the most important. It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which is vital for bones, teeth, and muscles. Most of the vitamin D we need comes from sunlight, but it’s hard to get during the winter months.
With that in mind, Jamal Ramsay, co-founder of nutrition experts Jrny, spoke to Express.co.uk about how much sunlight we really need.
He explained, “The amount of time you need to spend in the sun to get enough vitamin D can vary depending on several factors, including your skin type, time of day, and where you live.”
Mr. Ramsay explained that it is recommended to spend five to 30 minutes on the face, arms, legs or back in the sun two to three times a week.
“The amount of time it takes to produce enough vitamin D can vary depending on the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which is affected by factors such as time of day, season, and your latitude,” he said.
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He reported that getting those short bursts of sunlight without sunscreen would allow more vitamin D to be absorbed.
However, other sources state that sunscreen may not actually interfere with vitamin D absorption, and it is still safer to apply skin protection.
Harvard Medical Health says, “From a practical standpoint, very few people put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB light, or they use sunscreen infrequently, so the effect of sunscreen on vitamin D might not be that big of a deal.
“A frequently cited Australian study showed no difference in vitamin D levels between adults assigned to use sunscreen one summer and those assigned a placebo cream.”
Can you still absorb vitamin D on a cloudy day?
Mr. Ramsay continued: “Vitamin D can be obtained from the sun even on cloudy days, but the amount of vitamin D produced will be lower than on sunny days.
“When you are exposed to sunlight, your skin produces vitamin D in response to the ultraviolet rays of sunlight.
“Clouds can block some of these UVB rays, reducing the amount of vitamin D produced in your skin.
“According to the Vitamin D Council, on a clear day when the sun is directly overhead, the skin can produce between 10,000 and 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure.
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“However, on a cloudy day, the skin can only produce about 10 percent of that amount.
“So while you can still get some vitamin D on an overcast day, it may take longer to produce the same amount of vitamin D as on a sunny day.
“It’s also important to note that you should still take steps to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, such as wearing sunscreen and protective clothing, even on cloudy days.”
Other Sources of Vitamin D
“Importantly, prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can increase the risk of skin damage and skin cancer,” Ramsay added.
“Therefore, it is recommended that you get your vitamin D from a combination of sources, including food and supplements, rather than relying solely on sunlight.”
Foods containing vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
- red meat
- egg yolks
- Fortified foods such as some fatty spreads and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Bone pain and muscle weakness
- Increased risk of bone fractures
- Difficulties in wound healing
- Mood changes such as depression or anxiety
- Hair loss
- Weakened immune system leading to frequent infections
- Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly
- Growth and developmental delay in children.
Mr Ramsay said: “However, many people with vitamin D deficiency may not experience any symptoms at all. The best way to determine if you have a vitamin D deficiency is to have a blood test that measures your vitamin D levels.”
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