While our summertime days are long and warm, now is the time to build up your vitamin D reserves for the winter. Sunshine on your skin is absolutely the best way to improve your vitamin D status. However, skin cancer rates are climbing and I personally have added to the non-melanoma rates of skin cancer myself. I love sun but I do hate cancer. I also hate depression and can get it if I do not have enough vitamin D.
What to do?
As you plan your own sunbathing time this summer, read the resource provided by the Vitamin D Council on sunlight and indoor tanning. You will notice key points:
- You will make most vitamin D in the summer and in the middle of the day. Those hours we are told to avoid the sun because we can burn so badly are the hours we make most vitamin D.
- Our torso is the best producer of vitamin D, arms and legs are decent producers, and our hands and face are worst. In my case, my hands, arms, upper chest, and face have the most sun damage and so I cover them when I do purposefully lay out for sun exposure. They do not produce much vitamin D anyway.
- Higher altitudes encourage more vitamin D production. Beach bums probably make up for it in time in the sun.
- Sunscreen and glass (windows) block UVB rays and, thus, block the production of vitamin D.
- If you are extremely fair (as I am), you will produce vitamin D with less sun exposure.
In my own routines, I typically cover up while I am gardening or doing yard work and I do lay out during the summer as I can. When I lay out, I expose my legs and torso but keep my face, hands, and upper chest and neck covered since I have the most skin damage in those areas. It is a great, relaxing ritual I try to do daily for at least thirty minutes.
Vitamin D In Food?
If you do not have the opportunity to help your body make its own vitamin D, do not rely on your diet to keep up your vitamin D levels. The best sources of vitamin D in food are certain fish, but they contain very little when you consider your vitamin D needs. I discuss food sources of vitamin D in the video below (and lard specifically).
Your best bet to supplement your vitamin D is cod liver oil, a great option for the wintertime or even during the summer if you get very little sun exposure.