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The Power of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D is technically a vitamin that our bodies can produce when our skin is exposed to sunlight. In fact, it’s a pro-hormone: it can be turned into a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the sun. It’s involved in numerous physiological processes, such as calcium absorption, bone formation, and immune function (1). Adequate levels of vitamin D have been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, viral conditions, and autoimmune conditions (2)(3).

Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Synthesis:

When UVB rays from the sun interact with our skin, a remarkable transformation takes place. Cholesterol in our skin is converted into vitamin D3, which is then metabolized in the liver and kidneys to its active form, calcitriol (4). This process is vital for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels in the body. If sun screen is applied 24/7, or, kidney or liver function are less than optimal, vitamin D levels may remain at suboptimal levels.

Determining Sun Exposure and Sunscreen Use:

The sun has long been a source of both nourishment and fear. Over the years, fear of the sun’s harmful effects has been instilled in society, leading many to avoid sun exposure altogether or rely heavily on sunscreen. While it is crucial to protect our skin from excessive sunburn and harmful UV radiation, it is equally important to dispel the fear and embrace the benefits that responsible sun exposure can offer.

Fear surrounding sun exposure stems from concerns about skin cancer and premature aging. While these risks are real, it is essential to understand that moderate sun exposure can actually have positive effects on our health. The key lies in finding the right balance between sun protection and the benefits of sunlight, particularly in relation to vitamin D synthesis. We shouldn’t bake in the sun for hours, or get a sunburn and we shouldn’t completely avoid the sun. The truth lies somewhere in between.

While the sun provides a natural and accessible source of vitamin D, it’s essential to strike a balance between reaping its benefits and protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. The amount of sun exposure required to synthesize adequate vitamin D depends on various factors, including the time of day, season, geographic location, and skin type (5).

Finding the Right Balance:

When it comes to sun exposure and vitamin D synthesis, finding the right balance is key. Short, regular exposures to the sun, especially during peak hours when UVB rays are most intense, can help maximize vitamin D production while minimizing the risk of sunburn and skin damage (7). Experts recommend aiming for 10 to 30 minutes of sun exposure on the face, arms, and legs three -four times a week, depending on your skin type and location (8).

Additionally, it’s important to note that vitamin D can also be obtained through dietary sources such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), fortified dairy products, and certain mushrooms. However, sunlight remains the most efficient and natural way for our bodies to produce vitamin D.

The importance of vitamin D for overall health and well-being cannot be overstated. Getting some sun exposure, particularly for individuals with lighter skin, is essential for optimal vitamin D synthesis. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between sun exposure and sun protection to minimize the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Always consider your skin type, location, and duration of sun exposure when determining the need for sunscreen.

Remember, sunlight is a powerful resource that, when used mindfully, can contribute to our overall health and vitality. Embrace the benefits of the sun, soak up some vitamin D, and enjoy the wonders of nature responsibly.


  1. Holick, M. F. (2011). Vitamin D: A D-Lightful Solution for Health. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 59(6), 872-880.
  2. Pilz, S., et al. (2018). Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Narrative Review. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 19(11), 1-29.
  3. Grant, W. B., et al. (2017). Emphasizing the Health Benefits of Vitamin D for Those with Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Intellectual Disabilities. Nutrients, 9(2), 153.
  4. Wacker, M., & Holick, M. F. (2013). Sunlight and Vitamin D: A Global Perspective for Health. Dermato-Endocrinology, 5(1), 51-108.
  5. Pludowski, P., et al. (2013). Vitamin D Effects on Musculoskeletal Health, Immunity, Autoimmunity, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Fertility, Pregnancy, Dementia and Mortality—A Review of Recent Evidence. Autoimmunity Reviews, 12(10), 976-989.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology. (2021). Sunscreen FAQs. Retrieved from
  7. Reichrath, J. (2008). The Challenge Resulting from Positive and Negative Effects of Sun: How Much Solar UV Exposure Is Healthy? Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 92(1), 9-16.
  8. Holick, M. F., et al. (2011). Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 96(7), 1911-1930.

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