The Sun & Vitamin D: What To Do

We are here to say: Don’t underestimate the importance of vitamin D, my friends. From a strong, sturdy skeleton of hardy bones to the prevention of cancer and heart disease, this little vitamin is critical in a big way. In fact, vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, depression, weight gain, MS and beyond! And where do we get it? The sun prompts our bodies to create it. One little thing though: Sunscreen completely blocks our ability to get vitamin D. So in a world obsessed with slathering on the UV protection at all times (to stave off cancer and wrinkles), no wonder so many of us are vitamin D deficient (and probably don’t even know it). What are we to do?

You have three ways to get your vitamin D, and we suggest you do all three, or at least two!

Sun Exposure

The thing about sun exposure and vitamin D is that it doesn’t have to be on your face. You can spend some sunny minutes connecting to nature each day while still promising your dermatologist your face is protected with your favorite natural sunscreen. Just see if you can expose your arms and legs, without the lotion… just for a little bit!

Vitamin D researcher Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., has writtten a book called The Vitamin D Solution in which he lays out a formula for figuring out just how many rays you need to be soaking up. Generally speaking, he says to estimate the time it would take your skin to turn pink in the sun. Then divide that time by 25 to 50 percent, depending on your skin type. So, someone with fair skin who burns easily would be advised to spend 20-30 minutes in the sun in fall and spring-like weather and 15-20 minutes in summer-like weather, each day. Winter? Bundle up by the fire with a warm chai latte; you’re not going to garner much benefit from the weak rays. 


Unfortunately, not too many foods naturally offer us a hefty dose of vitamin D. Fatty fish and fish oils such as cod liver oil, salmon and mackerel are your best options, but should be sustainably sought out. Otherwise, it’s fortified milk for us! And luckily for all, many non-dairy organic milks are fortified with vitamin D, too. One cup of vitamin D fortified milk supplies about one-fourth of the estimated daily need for this vitamin for adults. 


Dr. Holick – whom we mentioned earlier – recommends a dose of 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D for both infants and adults – unless you’re getting plenty of safe sun exposure. So, if you can’t get it together with diet and sunlight, keep yourself D-ified with a quality supplement from your local health food store. 

image: rachel_titiriga