Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are You Getting Enough Sun?

Image via Flickr by Jim Larrison
I recently was thinking about how we get vitamin D from the sun and wondering whether sunscreen blocks vitamin D from being absorbed, so I did a search on Google and found that indeed, it does block vitamin D. I also read that many have gone overboard encouraging sunscreen whenever we are out in the sun. Vitamin D is very important to our health, and so it's important to get enough in our bodies. In the winter, it's impossible to get enough from the sun if you live too far north (from what I read, anywhere that's north of Atlanta), but you can get enough in the summer.

Many believe that you get enough from supplements and milk. According to government regulations, this may be true, but not according to many health researchers who believe you need around 1,000 to 2,000 IUs a day (at least in the summer when you can get it from the sun). You only get around 100 IUs from milk and 400 IUs from a multi-vitamin.

Image via Flickr by What I Wore
This isn't to say that sunscreen isn't important. Everyone should wear it regardless of their skin tone because it protects against skin cancer (even if you're tan, it's needed). But we should allow ourselves to be outside without sunscreen for a short amount of time, depending on your skin tone. Those who are fair skinned only need around a few minutes midday; if you're tan, you will need around 15 to 20 minutes; extremely dark-skinned individuals may need as much as an hour or more (though studies are needed to determine how much).

You can find more information on this topic for US News and World Report's article, "Time in the Sun: How Much Is Needed for Vitamin D?"
 
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