Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins (technically, it is a hormone) that gives us the biggest “bang for our buck” in terms of health promotion and disease prevention. The best and most abundant source of vitamin D is from the sun. This is why it is called the “sunshine vitamin.”
Exposure to the sun is a big controversy these days. Dermatologists and other health officials have us fearing the sun because of the threat of skin cancer.
There has been a 300 percent increase in skin cancer incidence in the last 20 years. Considering the fact that less people are in the sun these days, the increased use of sunscreen by the people who are in the sun, and the fact that skin cancer also occurs in areas of the body “where the sun doesn’t shine,” one has to question whether the sun is completely to blame.
One thing we have to realize is the sun is “life giving.” Life on earth would not exist without it.
We get one of the most important nutrients from it…VITAMIN D!!!
If you choose to get vitamin D from the sun, it is important to follow these guidelines for safe sun exposure:
- In Chicago, we can only get Vitamin D from the sun from late April through early September.
- The hours to get Vitamin D in the summer are from approximately 10:00am to 3:00pm.
- Get out in the sun with exposed arms, legs, etc., WITHOUT SUNSCREEN until your skin turns slightly pink. Times can vary depending on skin tone. It could be as little as 10 minutes for fair skin and up to 1-1 1/2 hours for darker skin.
- After you get enough exposure without burning, apply sunscreen if you are going to be in the sun for a longer period of time.
- Avoid sunscreens with these ingredients: Oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide are safer. We like Alba Botanica mineral sunscreens.
- If you only get sun exposure on the weekend, it is probably not enough to keep your blood Vitamin D levels in the ideal range. On the days you are not in the sun, we recommend taking 5,000-10,000IU of vitamin D3 for adults and 1,000-5,000IU for children.
- If you have a history of skin cancer, protect your skin at all times and take a vitamin D3 supplement.