Sunbathing and vitamin D

As cheesy as it sounds, there really is nothing quite like a ray of sunshine to brighten your day. Getting Sunbathing outdoors and active is excellent for your physical and mental health. And it’s not just about getting your blood pumping: Sunlight is also your body’s main source of vitamin D.1

Vitamin D – or ‘the sunshine vitamin’ – is vital for your health. But just as important as getting enough vitamin D is protecting yourself from the harmful effects of the sun. Thankfully, it’s possible to enjoy the sun safely and still get enough vitamin D to stay healthy.

Let’s take a closer look at the sunshine vitamin, how you can stay safe while topping up, and what to do if you aren’t getting enough.

The sunshine vitamin

When the UVB rays in sunlight strike your skin, an early form of vitamin D is made. This chemical travels to your kidneys via the liver, where it’s processed into active vitamin D. It’s now ready for your body to use.2

Vitamin D captures calcium from food so your bones can grow and stay healthy. It has several other important roles, too, like supporting healthy immune function and cell growth.3

If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you could become unwell. Common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are tiredness, aches, and pains, and not feeling great in general. In more severe cases, weakness and pain become worse. Eventually, vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones in adults and rickets in children, increasing the risk of fractures and other serious health problems.4

Vitamin D is present in small amounts in certain foods, including certain fish, egg yolks, and liver.5 But it’s hard to get enough from your diet, particularly if you don’t eat animal products. With vitamin D deficiency becoming more common worldwide, you must make sure you’re getting enough sunshine without slacking on safety. Let’s take a look at how you can top up on vitamin D safely.

Topping up on vitamin D safely

It’s difficult to say exactly how much sun you need to get enough vitamin D because it’s different for everyone. It depends on several factors: where you live, the color and sensitivity of your skin, and the time of year, to name a few. But before you start unfolding your deck chair, don’t overestimate how much sun you need.

Just being out and about in the summer with your skin exposed to the sun for short periods should be enough for most people.

Don’t forget, the sun’s UV rays are dangerous. If you aren’t careful, you risk burning, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. If your skin starts to go red or burn, you’ve had too much. It’s important to take precautions to make sure this doesn’t happen.

If you have sensitive skin or live in a sunny country, be extra cautious. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially around midday. Wear sun cream, and don’t forget to reapply, especially after swimming. Your face and eyes can be particularly sensitive, so wear a hat and sunglasses.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t need to be hot outside for the sun to burn your skin. Keep an eye on UV indexes online to give you an idea of which days to take extra precautions.

Taking vitamin D supplements

Sunshine is our best source of vitamin D. But sometimes it’s necessary to take supplements to make sure you’re getting enough. People at the greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency are:3

  • Older adults
  • People with a dark complexion
  • People who have limited sun exposure.

If you’re in one of these groups, you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement. And even if you’re not, you might get some benefit too, especially during the winter months. Speak to your doctor about vitamin D supplements to find out if you should start taking them.

So get outside and enjoy a healthy dose of vitamin D if you can. Just make sure you’re doing it safely.

  1. Holick, M. F. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” The New England Journal of Medicine 357, 266–281 (2007).
  2. Endotext. “Vitamin D: Production, Metabolism, and Mechanisms of Action.” Accessed October 14, 2020.
  3. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” Accessed October 14, 2020.
  4. Patient. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” Accessed October 14, 2020.
  5. NHS. “Vitamin D.” Accessed October 14, 2020.

**Sunbathing ​and Vitamin D**

**Q: What ‌is Vitamin D and why is it important?**

**A:** Vitamin⁢ D is​ a nutrient that⁣ is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles. It also plays a ‌vital role in the immune system​ and overall health.

**Q: How can​ I get Vitamin ‍D?**

**A:** The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. When ‍exposed ⁢to sunlight, the skin produces a form of vitamin ​D known as vitamin D3. You can also ​obtain vitamin D ⁢from certain ⁤foods, such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna), eggs, and fortified foods like milk and‍ cereals.

**Q: Is sunbathing the best way ‍to get⁤ Vitamin D?**

**A:**​ While sunbathing can be an effective way to obtain vitamin D, it is essential to do so safely and in moderation. Excessive sun exposure can increase the risk of skin damage, sunburn, and skin cancer.

**Q: How much sunbathing‌ is safe for Vitamin ⁤D production?**

**A:** The recommended amount of ⁣sun exposure for vitamin D⁤ production varies depending on skin type​ and other factors. It is generally recommended to get 10-15 minutes of unprotected sunlight on ⁣the face, arms, and legs several times per week during the summer ‍months.

**Q: ⁣What are the ‌dangers of⁤ excessive sunbathing?**

**A:** Excessive sunbathing can lead ​to a number ‍of health problems, including:

* ‍Sunburn

* Skin damage

* Increased⁢ risk ‌of ‍skin cancer (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma)

* Premature aging of the ⁢skin

**Q: How can I protect myself⁤ from ‌the negative effects of sunbathing?**

**A:** To ⁢protect your skin from the ‍negative effects of⁢ sunbathing, it is essential to:

*​ Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

* Reapply sunscreen every ‍two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating heavily.

* Seek shade during​ peak sunlight ​hours (10am-4pm).

* Wear protective ⁤clothing, ‍including a ⁤hat, ⁢sunglasses, and ⁣long-sleeved ⁢shirt and⁢ pants.

**Q: Can‌ I ​take⁤ a⁤ Vitamin D⁤ supplement ​instead of sunbathing?**

**A:** Vitamin D supplements⁣ can be a ​useful ‍alternative ‍to sunbathing for individuals who are‌ at ‌high risk of⁢ skin cancer, ⁢have limited sun exposure, or ⁣live ‌in‍ regions ‌with‌ low sunlight levels. However, it is important to talk to your ​doctor before ⁢taking a ⁣Vitamin D supplement, as too much ⁣vitamin D can be harmful.

**Q: What are the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency?**

**A:** Symptoms ‍of vitamin​ D deficiency can include:

* Bone pain‌ and muscle weakness

* Fatigue

* Frequent infections

* Impaired immune function

* ‍Mood​ disorders

One comment

  1. Yes! Not only does sunbathing feel good, but it also provides your body with essential vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is important for strong bones, teeth, and muscles. It also helps your immune system function properly and may protect against some chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Just be sure to sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.

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