Make Sure You Get Your Dose Of Vitamin D (Sun)…

We’ve been told for years to protect ourselves against the sun. Yet articles highlighting the risks of lack of sun have started to emerge.

Why do we need the sun?

We need it to synthesize vitamin D3. We get vitamin D3 mostly through the sun (and a small proportion through food).

What If We Don’t Get Enough?

Deficiency in vitamin D3 is associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, some cancers (17 types), rickets, diabetes, hypertension, neuromuscular disorders,…

Alternatively, too much exposure to the sun will lead to skin cancer. Yes. But the key word here is ‘too much exposure’.

What is Vitamin D3 Synthesis Exactly?

Before we get into what’s the right exposure, I’ll say a few words about how vitamin D3 synthesis works.

Vitamin D3 is made in the skin when the sun (more specifically the ultra-violet rays UVB) strikes bare skin.

The more bare flesh is exposed and the stronger the sun, the more vitamin D3 you’ll make. Sun protection cremes prevent vitamin D to be synthesized as they block UVB. Most sunbeds use UVA and not UVB. Hence, they will give you a tan but no vitamin D. Exposure behind windows does not count as windows block UVB. Finally, if you wash with soap after sun exposure, you’ll wash away most vitamin D before it has had the time to be absorbed.

Why It’s Important To Get The Right Sun Exposure

What happens next in your body explains why it’s important to get the right sun exposure.

After it’s been synthesized in the skin, vitamin D3 is transported to the liver where it is metabolized into calcidiol. Calcidiol goes to the kidney where it’s transformed into a steroid hormone (calcitriol).  Calcitriol then circulates in your blood to regulate serum calcium.  Calcium is vital to the function of the cells in the body, without enough calcitriol in the blood calcium levels will fall and illness will set in.

However, if your vitamin D tank is full, excess calcidiol does not go to the kidney but to every cell in the body capable of making calcitriol.  And that’s when you get all the extra health benefits of vitamin D: strengthened bones, powerful immune system, healthy cardiovascular and heart function, risk limitation of many types of cancer (bladder, brain, breast, colorectal, eye, liver, lung,…), mood booster (less risk of depression and SAD),

That’s why, you do want your vitamin D tank full.

Current Trends

Unfortunately, we tend to stay indoors more and more and increased number of people are reported to have vitamin D deficiency. More than half the population in the UK and North-America would have insufficient levels of vitamin D! More than one in two!!! Chances are you might be one of them…

How Do I Make Sure I Get Just The Right Dose Of Sunshine … But Not Too Much?

Use common sense and adapt your sun exposure to where you live, the time of year, the darkness of your skin.

If you are fair-skinned, you’ll need less exposure to make vitamin D. If you’re dark-skinned, you’ll need more.

If you live in Northern latitudes (most of Europe, most of the USA), the rays of the sun are not powerful enough to generate vitamin D in the colder months (October to March).

The Vitamin D council (a non-profit educational corporation) recommends 20 to 30 minutes (for fair skins, up to 6 times longer for dark skins) of exposure a day: from April to September, in midday sun, showing as much flesh as you can, not wearing any sun protection. Only wash the exposed areas with water afterwards (no soap).

Only expose yourself until your skin turns pink (not red). Do not get sunburned.

In the winter months, get your vitamin D through food to compensate. Good sources are: oily fish (such as salmon) and eggs. Use a sunbed (with UVB!) if you can.

In conclusion, don’t be scared of the sun. Stock up on sun in the spring and summer months.

Be careful not to burn.

The sun is free. It’s good for you.

Let it shine!!!


Comments

Make Sure You Get Your Dose Of Vitamin D (Sun)… — 5 Comments

  1. I currently take vitamin C for skin, and Vitamin E for hair. I have seen a huge difference in my hair since I started the vitamin E, does anyone have suggestions about other vitamins that improve looks

  2. I always wondered what vitamin D does. When I look at it, I don’t think I get enough sunlight especially if you’re supposed to get 20-30 minutes a day. I usually get it while running so maybe I could increase the amount of running I do each week.

    I think a big problem for many people is that everything takes place indoors now. There isn’t as much of an opportunity to go outside anymore. That just doesn’t seem good for us anymore as your post here points that out.

    • Hi Steve,

      It sounds like you’re getting enough (20 to 30 minutes sun exposure will be enough if you’re fair skinned). However, you need to adapt your exposure according to your latitude, time of day, time of year, cloud cover. If it’s cloudy, run a bit longer as, the heavier the clouds, the more UV rays will be blocked.
      Wear short sleeves t-shirts and shorts to expose as much bare skin as possible to synthetise as much vitamin D as possible.
      If it’s very sunny, of course, don’t let yourself burn!

      It’s very easy to forget to spend some time outdoors. I admire your running! I’m not much of a runner myself. My solution… my beautiful black labrador Jess. She makes sure I take her out!

  3. Hi Isabelle,

    Here I am again. I can tell you one thing is that I think that Americans do not get enough sun in general. I am saying this because being from France I’ve observed the French to be more outdoor people than Americans are. Here they love too much their air conditioning and spend whole days indoors.

    I love the sun and I’ve always known that it’s good for you. But just like wine, too much will of course be bad for you. Common sense should be the judge as you mentioned.

    Thank you for coming over to my blog 🙂

    • Hi Sylviane,

      Same thing here in the UK. People spend a lot of time indoors and there have been reports of increasing cases of rickets and lack of vitamin D. English people are also quite scared of the sun generally. I’ve got a darker skin (Italian and Maltese grand-parents) so I can take a bit more before it starts turning pink (which hasn’t been the case for a long time – terrible spring and summer so far over here…). Like you said, it’s all about moderation and commopn sense 🙂
      We also make an effort to walk often with the kids instead of leaving them indoors on their DS and other devices. They’re not always happy to start with but we try and make it fun and we always end up having a great time. Living in a trekking paradise and having a dog who needs plenty of exercise help a lot too.

      Speak to you soon on your blog or mine!

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