The sun is your friend – the sun is your enemy. How much vit. D do we need?
In countries with little sunshine, during seasons when there is little sunshine or when we are not exposed to sufficient sunlight, you will need to get your vitamin D from food and drink. And plant-based is always best!
Do we need extra vititamin D through our diet or supplements?
If you are often exposed to sunlight and not wearing make-up or sunscreen, and if your body has enough cholesterol, then you do not need extra vit. D in your diet or through supplements. Your body will produce enough active vitamin D on its own.
A half hour of sensible tanning without sunscreen equals 500 µg (20 000 IE). (11)
Three hours of summer sun on your face will give you 10 μg (400IE). (11)
Because vit. D is largely stored in your body fat, your body can build up a supply of it. Tanning regularly without sunscreen or regularly exposing your face, arms and legs to blissful sunlight (5 to 30 minutes a time, twice a week) can help you to build up enough vit. D stock to get you through the winter. (11)
If you expose your face to the sun and you’re wearing a lot of make-up (foundation) or are tanning with sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor), then you will not produce sufficient vit. D from sunlight, or will produce none at all. Tanning responsibly without sunscreen is healthier for your body than tanning a lot with a standard sunscreen. If you do not wear sunscreen your body can produce vit. D, and moreover many sunscreens contain products that it would be better not to use, both for the sake of your skin and your health.
Dr Michael Holick, vitamin D expert, believes the sun can prevent many serious diseases. (16) His motto is: ‘Sunlight is your friend, but use it in moderation’. Benefit from the good effects of the sun but avoid the damage it may cause through exaggerated or chronic exposure. He recommends sun-tanning for 5 to 10 minutes without sunscreen, after which you should cover up using clothing, shade or sunscreen. Dr Holick recommends moderate exposure to the sun, and that long-term, unprotected and extreme exposure must be avoided. Many people love to suntan between 11.30 and 16.00, but that is generally not healthy. Avoid long-term exposure to the fierce sun between 11.00 and 16.30.