The amount of sunlight you need to avoid vitamin D deficiency (Part I: Signs, Symptoms, Health Risks of vitamin D deficiency) is not a simple answer. There are several factors that go into determining how much time you need to spend outside to allow your body to make the right amount of vitamin D. However, you may be surprised at how little sun you actually need, or you may be surprised that no matter how much sun you get you cannot get enough sun for your body to make enough vitamin D. A good gauge of how much sun you need to get enough Vitamin D is about half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink. I know, pretty vague, but it’s a place to start.
To get a better, more accurate measurement of how much sun you need to get enough vitamin D you can follow a few easy steps. The first step is to determine how much vitamin D you need. The recommended daily amounts (measured in international units-IU’s) of vitamin D are indicated in this table, however many experts insist that those recommended amounts are not high enough; they recommend 2000 IUs per day in the winter and daily sun exposure during the summer. The good news is once you have determined how much sun you need to get enough vitamin D your body will store that vitamin D in your body for 30-60 days.
The next step to determine how much sun you need to get enough vitamin D is to figure out your skin type. This table is helpful. Your skin type will determine the amount of time you need to spend in the sun based on the time of the year and where you live in the world. If you are a Type I skin type you may need only 45 minutes per week; a Type VI may need up to 3 hours per week.
Another step to determine how much sun you need to get enough vitamin D is to identify factors that may block sun exposure. Two of those factors include the time of year and geographical location. During the summer most people will have enough sun exposure to make plenty of vitamin D. However, if you live above a line from Los Angeles to South Carolina you will likely not get enough sun during winter months. Although your body retains vitamin D for 30-60 days supplementation may be needed during the winter months.
Other factors that lessen your ability to get enough vitamin D include:
- Environmental factors such as smog, windows, clouds and sunscreen application that block exposure to sunlight
- Medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease that block vitamin D absorption
- Physical conditions including obesity and kidney function in the elderly
- Vegetarian diet
If you believe you may need more vitamin D please consult your physician.
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Vitamin D | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-d#ixzz2vDO4Cx5X
University of Maryland Medical Center