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Maximizing Vitamin D From The Sun: Safe Exposure Tips

Vitamin D from the sun plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. But as our lives get busier and we become more conscious of sun protection, it’s easy to forget how powerful even a little bit of sunshine can be when it comes to getting sufficient vitamin D.

For years, I was confused about vitamin D from the sun. How much sun exposure was too much? Did sunscreen block all vitamin D absorption? I was overwhelmed with information.

It felt like a balancing act – reaping the health benefits of the sunshine vitamin without the risks of sun damage.

The Sunshine Vitamin: What Makes it So Important?

Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin,” isn’t actually a vitamin, but a hormone. Our bodies create it when our skin is exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. This incredible process is how we get most of our vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for optimal health.

This matters because vitamin D plays a critical role in:

  • Bone Health: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, the building block of strong bones. It also helps to maintain phosphorus levels.
  • These minerals work hand-in-hand. Without vitamin D, our bodies can’t absorb calcium effectively, leading to weakened bones, aches, and even osteoporosis.
  • Immunity: It bolsters our immune system, helping us fight off infections more effectively.
  • Mental Health: Studies show a link between vitamin D deficiency and mental health challenges, making sufficient levels important for mood regulation.

Vitamin D from the Sun vs. Other Sources

fatty fish for vitamin d
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While we can get small amounts of vitamin D from certain foods, like fatty fish, eggs, and fortified products, these sources are often not enough to meet our daily needs. Supplements can bridge the gap but nothing quite compares to the natural process of making vitamin D from the sun. Sunlight triggers a cascade of reactions in our skin that lead to the most potent and readily absorbed form of vitamin D.

How Much Sun Exposure Do You Really Need?

woman getting daily vitamin D
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Figuring out the optimal amount of sunlight exposure is where things get tricky. You’ve probably heard conflicting information. The truth is, there’s no magic number. Many factors affect vitamin D production.

Factors That Affect Vitamin D Production:

  • Time of Day: The sun’s UVB rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., making this the most efficient time for vitamin D synthesis.
  • Skin Color: Darker skin has more melanin, which protects against UV damage but also means you need more time in the sun compared to someone with lighter skin to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
  • Season and Location: Where you live drastically impacts UVB intensity. The farther you are from the equator, the less intense the UVB rays, especially during winter.
  • During certain months, you may not produce any vitamin D from sunlight. For example, folks in Boston or Edmonton, face this from November to February.
  • Age: As we get older, our skin’s ability to make vitamin D naturally declines.
  • Clothing: Covering up? Consider this: the more skin exposed to sunlight, the more vitamin D your body can make.

The Sunscreen Dilemma

Sunscreen reduces your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D. However, short-term studies show sunscreen has little to no effect on blood vitamin D levels. This suggests that longer durations in the sun, even with sunscreen, can still lead to sufficient vitamin D production.

However, it’s unclear whether frequent sunscreen use reduces vitamin D levels long term. Finding a good balance is key: using sunscreen to protect against skin damage and getting adequate vitamin D. I recommend brief periods (10-15 minutes) of midday sun exposure, several times per week, followed by applying sunscreen.

See our top reasons to always choose natural sunscreen.

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The Dangers of Too Much Sun

While vitamin D from the sun is great, overdoing it can be seriously harmful. Excess sunlight exposure can lead to skin damage and other health problems.

Risks of Excess Sunlight Exposure:

SunburnRedness, pain, swelling, blisters. Increases the risk of premature aging and skin cancer.
Eye DamageCataracts, macular degeneration. These can potentially lead to vision loss over time.
Premature AgingWrinkles, leathery texture, age spots – basically, your skin looks older than it is.
Skin CancerBasal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma – all linked to UV exposure.
Heat StrokeHigh body temperature, nausea, headache, dizziness. Can be life-threatening without immediate medical attention.

Finding Your Sweet Spot: Tips for Safe Sun Exposure

  1. Know Your Skin: People with lighter skin may only need 10-15 minutes of midday sun a few times per week, while those with darker skin might need 30 minutes or longer. Remember, avoid getting sunburned at all costs.
  2. Gradual Exposure: Start with short durations and gradually increase your time to allow your skin to acclimate.
  3. Timing is Everything: Aim for that sweet spot between 10 am and 3 pm when UVB rays are at their peak.
  4. Listen to Your Body: If you experience any redness, discomfort, or burning sensations, get out of the sun immediately. That’s your body telling you it’s had enough.
  5. Supplementation Strategy: Talk to your doctor. They can check your levels and advise if supplements are needed. The latest advice for adults is no more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day from food and supplements.

FAQs about Vitamin D From The Sun

FAQ 1: How long do you need to be in the sun to get vitamin D?

There is no set time as multiple factors affect how much vitamin D from the sun your skin produces. Factors that affect vitamin D absorption include the time of day, season, location, skin color, and age.

FAQ 2: Is 7 am sunlight good for vitamin D production?

Sunlight at 7 am generally has lower levels of UVB rays, so it is less effective for Vitamin D production. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

FAQ 3: What are the symptoms of low vitamin D?

Low vitamin D symptoms include fatigue, bone pain, muscle weakness, depression and increased risk of infections. If you are concerned you may have a vitamin D deficiency, speak with your doctor.

FAQ 4: Is taking vitamin D the same as getting it from the sun?

While supplements can help top up vitamin D levels, they don’t offer the same benefits as Vitamin D from the sun, which your body processes more efficiently. Getting regular sun exposure can boost vitamin D naturally.


Getting enough vitamin D from the sun is like walking a tightrope—we need to balance the benefits with the risks. It’s a journey, not a sprint. Listen to your body, talk to your doctor, and embrace safe sun practices.

Mick Wadley

Mick Wadley – Founder of Skorcha

After a decade in the scorching sun as a roofer and going door-to-door in sales – I was forced to take my skin health seriously following a skin cancer scare before the age of 30.

So began my passion for suncare, which is both effective and natural. Crafted for adventure and endurance sports, Skorcha formulas are non-greasy, have no eye sting and absolutely no bullshit (100% Organic).

My goal is to share what I’ve learned about skin health and safe ingredients, inspiring happier, healthier lives through adventure, organic goodness and conservation!

Help us plant a mangrove tree with every Skorcha product sold to protect fragile marine ecosystems and support underprivileged communities around the world.

Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products sold on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health. Skorcha recommends that you consult with your healthcare providers regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any disease or condition.