3 Ways to Get Enough Vitamin D – Without Getting a Sunburn
By L. Markham McHenry, D.O.
Vitamin D is important.
Of all the vitamins and minerals that are important to keep your body and your mind healthy, vitamin D is one that is not only beneficial, but essential.
Nearly every week it seems there’s another study that shows how it can help prevent cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis, among others. High levels of D may even help people with depression, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s vital for strong and healthy bones because it helps your body absorb calcium. It also helps your brain, muscles, cardiovascular and respiratory systems; strengthens your immune system to fight off infection; and even reduces inflammation.
The reality however, is that most people have a vitamin D deficiency. In fact, a very small percentage of my patients fall into a “normal” range.
The sun — ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in particular — is the best source of vitamin D. You can get enough of what your body needs in about half the time it would take to get a sunburn. This is a great news for fair-skinned people, but for those with darker skin it could take hours.
Another reason getting vitamin D from the sun is challenging is that in order to get enough, you have to be out in the sun without sunscreen, which puts you at risk for a sunburn, wrinkles, and of course, skin cancer.
So rather than tell you to avoid the sun at all costs, you can balance how you get vitamin D while also protecting your skin.
Here are 3 ways:
- Time it right. Soak in the sun, but don’t stay out for more than 30 minutes without sunscreen and sun-protective clothing. Also, try to head out before 10 am or after 4 pm when the sun’s UVA exposure is lower.
- Eat your D. Foods high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish like salmon and swordfish, fortified milk and orange juice, beef liver, sardines, yogurt, and egg yolks.
- Supplement. I recommend a vitamin D3 supplement of 2,000 IUs per day. Since too much could be toxic, be sure to check with your physician to make sure you’re taking the right amount.