Vitamin D: The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ - and for good reason. The production of vitamin D in the human body is stimulated when our skin is directly exposed to sunlight or more specifically, UVB rays. Due to Scotland’s location, our bodies can only produce vitamin D from the sun between the months of April and September. During these months it is important to spend time out in the sun around solar noon i.e., when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.

There is a quick trick you can use that helps you identify whether then sun is high enough in the sky to stimulate vitamin D production. If your shadow is shorter than you then you are able to produce vitamin D from sunlight.

However, if your shadow is longer than you it is unlikely that your body will be able to produce vitamin D. And if you do not have a shadow then vitamin D production is out of the question!

Vitamin D can only be produced when your skin is directly exposed to the sun. The larger the area of skin you expose the greater the vitamin D production. This means that when you are sunbathing for vitamin D production the less clothes you wear the better!

Vitamin D production can’t occur when you wear sunscreen as it blocks UVB ray absorption. Generally, about 15-20 minutes of quality, direct sun exposure each day is enough to meet our body’s vitamin D requirements. Vitamin D production takes longer if you are older or have darker skin. The lighter your skin the quicker it produces vitamin D during sun exposure but, as those with light skin are well aware, the more easily you burn. You don’t want to end up looking like a lobster as a consequence of trying to increase your levels of vitamin D. Therefore, care MUST be taken to avoid overexposure to the sun and any reddening of the skin to prevent sun burn.



Date published: 28 June 2023
Date updated: 28 June 2023


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