Getting enough sun and Vitamin D

* The following guest post was contributed by Charlotte Walker.

For the past few decades the importance of staying safe in the sun has been repeatedly stressed. Too much exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays can cause sunburn and in some cases, lead to skin cancer. However, getting enough sun exposure is vital for one particular bodily process: the synthesis of Vitamin D (1).

 

Guest Post: Getting enough Sun and Vitamin D - photo sunset with a boat

Vitamin D is required for a number of important functions in the body, and the extent of its effects are still being fully researched. A key role that the vitamin plays is in the regulation of calcium and phosphate, which in turns affects the health of your teeth and bones. A Vitamin D deficiency can therefore lead to bone conditions such as rickets (2).

Vitamin D is present in very few foods and so the vast majority – around 90 percent – of our intake of the vitamin comes from direct sunlight (3). The amount of sunlight that is needed for your body to synthesise Vitamin D depends of the colour of your skin, as melanin (the pigment that darkens skin) blocks the amount of UV light that is able to get through. This means that people with black or dark skin tones need more sunlight exposure to get enough of the vitamin (4).

Due to the way Vitamin D is produced, there are certain groups who are particularly at risk of a deficiency. According to the Food standards Agency these include people who:
• are of Asian origin
• always cover up all your skin when outside
• rarely get outdoors
• eat no meat or oily fish

The amount of time you spend in the sun also affects how much Vitamin D you are able to produce. Around 2 sessions of 5 to 30 minutes exposure to sunlight (without sunscreen) should be sufficient for most people .

Older people and pregnant women are advised to take 10 micrograms of the vitamin each day. Supplements like Vitamin D powder and capsules may be ideal.

About the Guest Author
Charlotte Walker writes professionally on a number of health topics relating to vitamin supplementation, particularly those featured in the news. Most recently this includes Vitamin D and its importance to the health of the body. You can follow her on Twitter using @charlottewalker.

References:

(1) Bupa (2004). Vitamin D and sunlight may reduce cancer risk.
(2) Food standards Agency (2010). Vitamin D.
(3) Health Research Forum (2005). Sunlight, Vitamin D and Health (pdf)
(4) Patient UK (2008). Vitamin D Deficiency.

 

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21 Responses to Getting enough sun and Vitamin D

  1. Fantastic guest post. Well written and informative. Thank you to Charlotte for a wonderful post, and to Gera for always having something educational on Sweet Foods. Cheers!

  2. I have to pick up more Vit. D supplement today. Living in the NE it's kind of limited since there are a lot of days the sun refuses to shine. Good post.
    My recent post Sue makes a meal with All-Bran

  3. This was an important post. My husband who always wears a hat outside developed a significant Vitamin d deficiency. Although over sun exposure can be detrimental to our skin, it is essential that sun exposure in moderation is healthy for our healthy well-being.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. I am so glad that you post this important article about the importance of sun and Vit D. Many people are not aware of it. Living here in cold Scotland, it's almost impossible to get enough sun as it's cold and gloomy most of the days. My family has to take a supplement of vit D and calcium. I do hope more people will read and educate themselves about food and health.
    My recent post Pineapple And Cucumber Salad

  5. Nothing like a good dose of natural Vitamin D. Great guest post and so important in this day and age. We are thankfully blessed with a lot of natural sun all the year round in India.
    My recent post Ottolenghi's Individual Cherry & Plum Clafoutis … & a chance to win a Kitchen Aid Mixer

  6. I am of Asian origin, and have recently been stuck in the office at work a lot lately. I should make sure to take plenty of breaks so that I can gt my dose of vitamin D.

  7. Thanks for the info. My doctors also told to go under the morning sun at least for a 10 minutes.

  8. excellent article, also it is found that people who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for Crohn's Disease. It is recommended for people who suffer from Crohn's Disease to take a vitamin D supplement since Vitamin D also has anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

  9. Very nice post! Vitamin D inf, other than common facts, is not so readily available compared to some of the other vitamins. Being in Florida, a shopping trip gives at least five minutes of direct sunlight. Living up north, I was a sun bather however since moving to Florida I protect my fair skin, the sun is so much more intense here. Some years ago I had my skin checked, no UV damage even after all that sun bathing!

  10. Very informative! It's always so gloomy here, looks like I need some supplements.

  11. I have to admit that during our very cold winters, it's very difficult to get motivated to go outdoors – even when I do, I am so bundled up that I don't think I receive the appropriate amount of exposure. 8-( But being reminded of how important it is, I will be sure to try harder and make the effort, especially since I fall in one of the high risk categories. Thanks for the great information, Charlotte!
    My recent post A Sip and a Salad

  12. Great write up on something that a lot of people do not know all the facts about. I've seen several articles lately and hopefully this helps get the word out, as I understand its fairly easy to correct the problem with with a common sense approach.

    Thanks Charlotte.
    My recent post Moving Up My Travel List: Syria

  13. This is such an important post. It is good to hear so many people are aware of the importance of Vitamin D but there are more that don't know and we can hope that settle here to read this excellent post. Thanks for having such an informative guest post.
    My recent post TWD: No post this week

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