The Sun is the best source of vitamin D for your body. Vitamin D is in itself an important nutrient that is necessary for your body and good health. Read further to get answers to all the questions you might have about What vitamin do you get from the Sun?
How come the Sun produces vitamin D and how does your body absorb it?
You might wonder how exactly the Sun produces vitamin D and brings it to your body. Well, the Sun does not produce vitamin D at all. It is the ultraviolet radiation caused by the Sun that converts the vitamin D already present within your skin into “proper vitamin D.”
The molecule contained in your skin is a precursor to vitamin D (7-dehydrocholesterol), and it is only when the Sun gets in contact with your skin through ultraviolet radiation (UVB) that the precursor molecule can become vitamin D3. Then, after being somehow sent to your liver and kidneys, vitamin D3 becomes what is called calcitriol, the final product your body needs.
In short, the Sun allows the vitamin D synthesis to happen, by sending ultraviolet rays that transform cholesterol into vitamin D. It is important to note, however, that this process is only possible when you are in direct contact with sunlight. For instance, working in an office, near a window, will not help you get better bones… and exposing yourself to the sun, using a sunscreen will not either.
What vitamin do you get from the Sun?
Vitamin D has numerous benefits. The most important reason why vitamin D is good for you is that it helps you have quality bones and teeth. So, if you want to have strong bones and teeth, do not hesitate to spend a little extra time in the sunlight whenever you get the occasion.
Practically speaking, vitamin D has an important role in helping your system absorb calcium and phosphorus. This, in turn, strengthens not only your skeleton but your immune system as well. If your vitamin D levels are insufficient, you will develop brittle bones and thus increase your risks of getting osteoporosis once you get older. For children, vitamin D insufficiency is even more dangerous, as they may end up having soft bones (a condition we also call “rickets”).
If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you automatically find yourself at risk of developing various conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, muscle weakness, depression, etc.
How much sunlight is recommended?
Adults are said to need between 600 and 800 international units of vitamin D on a daily basis. However, it is important to note that the required sun exposure may not be the same for every individual. Your weight, your skin quality, your ethnicity, your medical condition, the area in which you live, the amount of skin area you expose, etc. can considerably influence the amount of sunlight you would ideally need to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Normally, if you are not spending your whole time indoors, the chances are that you are already getting the amount of vitamin D you need. If your daily routine includes little walks here and there (to the bus stop, to the market, to your office, etc.), and some outdoor activities from time to time, you are probably exposed to the Sun as much as you need.
The problem is when you are confronted with long and cold winters because even if you expose yourself to sunlight, the efficiency is considerably reduced. Otherwise, during the remaining three seasons, you can easily get enough sun exposure by spending half an hour to an hour outdoors on a daily basis.
Some categories have specific needs when it comes to vitamin D. People who are hospitalized or living in nursing homes are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. Also, people “of color” need three to five times more exposure to the sun to get the same vitamin D levels as a white-skinned person, as their skin naturally offers higher protection from the Sun (melanin being the cause of it). Obese or ill people under specific medication may also be less likely to be able to get their vitamin D levels right. Moreover, it is precisely in such cases that extra exposure is highly recommended.
If you want to have better chances to increase your vitamin D levels, try to be exposed to the Sun around midday, when the Sun is at its highest point and shining brightly (i.e., between 11 am and 3 pm).
- What do you need to remain careful about while taking advantage of the Sun’s benefits?
First, if your skin tolerates the Sun quite well, do not forget that being in direct contact with it also puts you at risk of developing a skin cancer… so, try to get the advantage of the Sun by exposing your skin, but do not forget that too much sunlight can also harm you.
Also, research suggests that having too much vitamin D is as harmful as having not enough. Too much vitamin D results in your body stocking calcium where it should not be found and forming kidney stones, for instance.
- What if you live under such circumstances that make it impossible for you to get vitamin D from the Sun?
If you are too ill to go out, or if you live in a place where sunlight is not easily accessible, you don’t need to worry. Vitamin D can also be found in a few foods such as salmon, tuna, cereal, juice, fortified milk, cod liver oil, swordfish, beef liver, sardines and egg yolks. Why not trying to consume these items on a regular basis to compensate for your deficiency? Also, you may consider taking vitamin D in supplements during dark, cold winters. Needless to say, however, that the natural way always remains the best way for What vitamin do you get from the Sun?.