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How to Get Vitamin D Without Too Much Fun in the Sun

Read Time: 4 minutes  

Break out the picnic blankets and sunscreen—you can enjoy the great outdoors and do something great for your body, effortlessly.

We’re talking about vitamin D, and it’s essential for more than its reputation for supporting bone health. 

When you spend time in the sun, your skin produces vitamin D when UVB rays interact with a protein in your body called 7-DHC

However, protecting your skin from too much sun exposure is just as important as naturally producing vitamin D. So how do you have fun in the sun without upping your risk of skin conditions like cancer? 

Read on for warning signs of D deficiency and tips to stay safe out there this summer.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Time in the sun can stimulate vitamin D production. Still, it's easy to develop a deficiency if you don't get enough sun, have pre-existing conditions, or have an unbalanced diet. 

If you find yourself working long office hours or not spending a lot of time outside, it is easy to develop a deficiency.

Other factors that increase the likelihood of a vitamin D deficiency include: 

  • Celiac's disease
  • chronic kidney/liver disease
  • taking some long-term heartburn medication
  • being elderly
  • darker skin

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to:

  • muscle weakness
  • slow wound healing
  • mood swings
  • fatigue not related to other conditions
  • bone and back pain
  • becoming ill often
  • hair loss
  • bone loss
  • increased risk of fractures, falls, and osteoporosis

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

Currently, the NIH recommends that adult women get around 600 IU or 15 mcg of vitamin D per day, and for adult men, about 600 IU or 15 mcg, but it may vary according to your needs.  

There are dietary sources of vitamin D — but they're somewhat limited, especially if you have a vegan or vegetarian diet. 

Be mindful of what you’re getting from your food and how much time you spend in the sun. It’s summer now, but in the winter months, especially if you live in a colder climate, it can be more difficult to get outdoors. 

If you find that you are not getting enough vitamin D through lifestyle and diet, supplements can be an easy and safe way to fill the gap. 

How Much Sunlight Do You Need for Vitamin D?

Diet and supplements aside…how much sun are we talking about here?

For most people, safe sun exposure is key, and research studies say you really only need about 9-25 minutes, in the sun per day depending on your skin tone to produce some vitamin D. 

There needs to be more research conducted on this for people with darker skin tones, but the message here is you don’t need to spend hours and hours per day sitting in the sunlight. 

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to stay safe while you soak in some rays.

Staying Safe In the Sun

  • Pick the Right Time to Bask In the Sun

  • The sun’s UVB rays are at their strongest midday, so if you can get out around lunchtime, even if you work in an office, a few minutes will make a difference. Think less time, and more potency when spending time in the sun.

  • Expose More Skin 

  • Wearing light clothing that exposes more skin to the sunlight is the best way to quickly produce vitamin D. Try a tank top and shorts to maximize the benefits, but only do so for short periods of time. 

  • Wearing Sunscreen is Still Important

  • Your health is crucial, so balancing out sun exposure with preventative measures can still allow for your body to make vitamin D while still protecting you against skin damage. Yep, that means wearing sunscreen is still crucial. In fact, studies show that routinely using at least SPF 15 reduces the likelihood of developing carcinoma by 40 percent, AND does not stop vitamin D production.

    So slather on some sunscreen this summer, grab your shades and a water bottle, and make it a goal to enjoy the sun every day for at least a few minutes—your body will thank you.

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