Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has multiple functions in the human body. It is most commonly known for supporting the normal function of the immune system, but also helps to maintain muscle function and support calcium absorption (to name a few!).
You may have heard vitamin D be referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Within this guide, you will learn as to why this is the case, including how to get the right amounts of vitamin D this summer.
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How To Get Vitamin D
Just like most vitamins, vitamin D can be found in a small number of foods. This includes:
- Oily fish
- Fortified milk and cereals
But, while it is true that vitamin D is present in some foods, you can’t rely on the quantities. Luckily, there is an alternative (and far more effective) way to get vitamin D – through the sun!
Your body creates vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight. The sun’s energy turns a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which then disperses throughout your body.
How Long Should I Spend In Sunlight?
There are a number of factors that can affect how much vitamin D your skin makes, which is why there’s no set time that you should spend in sunlight.
According to reports from the NHS, most people can make enough vitamin D when out in the sun for around 20 to 30 minutes. The sun must be in contact with uncovered skin, without sunscreen. This is particularly true during the hours of 11am to 3pm in the spring and summer months.
The Problem With The Sun
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get daily access to the sun. Whether stuck inside working or experiencing bad weather, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to give your body what it needs.
If living in the UK, the sun isn’t even strong enough to allow our skin to make vitamin D during winter. This is why the UK Department of Health advises that we should all take vitamin D supplements throughout the year, particularly during the winter months.
From October to early March, it’s sensible to take a supplement alongside maintaining a diet full of vitamin D food sources.
How To Stay Safe In The Sun
Now that you know how your body creates vitamin D, you may feel more inclined to spend more time outside. While this will be great for your vitamin levels, it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to the sun can be dangerous for your health.
With the above in mind, take these sun safety tips into consideration:
- Cover up with light clothing
- Wear sunglasses and a hat
- Wear at least SPF15 sunscreen
- Take breaks in the shade
There are many vitamins out there that support the normal functioning of your body. It’s safe to say that vitamin D is one of the most important. If you spend time outdoors, eat a balanced diet, and consider taking a supplement during winter months, you’ll have no trouble giving your body what it needs.