You’re about to hear sunbathing advice that is contrary to everything you’ve been taught about sun exposure: Get outside, without sunscreen slathered on your skin, and get some sun on your skin. Yes, we said without sunscreen. Why?
The only way to activate the production of natural Vitamin D in your body is to be exposed to natural sunlight (a sun lamp just won’t cut it). Sunscreen blocks out the rays that need to reach skin cells that can produce Vitamin D. So, how do you sunbathe safely to produce Vitamin D?
- 75% of your skin needs to be exposed: arms, legs, face, shoulders
- The duration of exposure to natural sunlight varies from person to person (see below)
- Do not shower for 45 minutes after exposure
- When? Late March to the end of September between 11 AM – 3 PM (depending on geographic location, but that’s a good guideline)
How long do I need to sunbathe without sunscreen to produce Vitamin D?
This is a little tricky to answer because it will vary from person to person as skin tone has a lot to do with how long you can manage sun exposure without getting a burn. Other factors such as pollution, humidity, cloud cover, etc. influence what would be “ideal” conditions for sunbathing sans sunscreen.
A safe approach is to start with 5-15 minutes daily and increase the time by 5 minutes every few days (fair-skinned folks starting at the lower end). For most people, a safe upper limit for sunbathing without applying sunscreen is around 30 minutes just a few days per week. Make an appointment with your health practitioner today to discuss how to get a “healthy tan” to produce natural Vitamin D.
- ADA Editorial: Sunbathing and Vitamin D. https://ada.com/editorial/sunbathing-and-vitamin-d/
- Harvard Health Newsletter: “Time for More Vitamin D.” (2008) Retrieved 15 May 2021: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d
- Healthline.com “How to Safely get More Vitamin D from Sunlight.” Retrieved 17 May 2021: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun#amount-of-skin
- Harvard Health Newsletter: “Vitamin D and Your Health: Breaking old rules, raising new hopes.” (2019) Retrieved 17 May 2021: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vitamin-d-and-your-health-breaking-old-rules-raising-new-hopes