It’s officially spring, and whether the temperature reflects it or not, and it’s time to get outside and enjoy some sunny days and warmer temperatures. One of the best things about spring is the time I spend outside in the sunshine, but I have to be careful and not get too much sun. And that brings up the question, how much unprotected sun exposure do I need for my body to produce vitamin D?
According to the Vitamin D Council, “You don’t need to tan or to burn your skin in order to get the vitamin D you need. Exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day. In fact, your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D in just a little under the time it takes for your skin to turn pink. You make the most vitamin D when you expose a large area of your skin, such as your back, rather than a small area such as your face or arms.”
Just last week I spent a few hours outside enjoying our weekly park day with my fellow homeschooling friends and got a bit too much sun. I left the park with a pink forehead and pink arms. I was obviously overexposed, and needed to break out the sunscreen earlier! I want to protect my skin and do everything I can to prevent skin cancer, but I want to make sure I am able to absorb enough vitamin D to be healthy.
If spending time in the sun isn’t happening due to living in a cloudy area or just lack of time, you can also take a vitamin D supplement to boost your levels. I do recommend visiting with your doctor and getting your levels checked before you self-administer the supplement. The recommended dosage is usually anywhere from 1000 IUs per day to 4000 IUs per day, depending on your circumstances. My doctor has recommended up to 10,000 IUs per day for a short period of time to raise my low levels, so it depends on your overall health and how much you deficient your body is.
What are some of the long-term risks involved with having a vitamin D deficiency?
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe asthma in children
- Bone and joint pain
Getting enough Vitamin D is actually one of the easiest ways we can improve our health, so get outside and enjoy the sun, but don’t overdo it! You can learn a lot more about vitamin D, what it is, why we need it, and how to get your levels tested, on the Vitamin D Council website!