As we all know now, we get copious amounts of vital vitamin D from sun exposure. How you get that vital vitamin depends on a number of factors. What most people don’t understand or know is that you don’t have to burn or tan in order to get the essential amounts of vitamin D from the sun.
Several factors will influence how much your body produces from sun exposure. People who live closer to the equator will obviously get higher amounts of exposure to the UVB rays in which our bare skin needs in order to produce vitamin D. Lighter skinned people also produce more than darker skinned people do. Simply stated, if you take longer to tan, your body needs more sunlight in order make vitamin D.
Usually, people can get all the vitamin D they need in about half the time it would normally take their skin to burn. The time of day in which you are outside will also make a difference. Ever heard the limit your exposure to the sun between 10-2 rule? Well there’s a good reason for it.
The sun is highest in the sky on either side of the noon hour. That’s when the earth is getting the most direct rays from the sun when compared to other hours in the day.
The area of the globe also makes a difference. People closer to the equator get more sunshine. Hence more vitamin D production in those regions all things constant.
But all things are never constant. Different people and different factors can make for some pretty tough predictions for proper sun exposure. Did you know that the older you get the harder it is for your body to make Vitamin D? It’s true, but then again each of us ages at different rates. Another factor that’s tough to predict.
If you live in Colorado at 6,500 feet above sea level then you”l get more sun exposure than someone located at the exact same latitude at a lower altitude. The atmosphere itself filters out the UVB rays our bodies needs. The lower in altitude you are the more atmosphere the rays have travel to before they get to your skin. This may explain why people in high country places tend to look more weathered.
Someone who lives in Los Angeles is more likely to get LESS exposure than someone who lives at the exact same latitude. Why? Because LA is known for the air pollution and air pollution acts much like clouds or the atmosphere affect. Pollution filters out UVB rays and prevents as much of them from reaching our skin.
There are some other factors that come into play but really aren’t worth mentioning. Obviously wearing sunscreen or sitting behind your car windshield is different from unobstructed skin exposure. There’s no debate or argument there. Cloudy places or super sunny environments will have their differences as well. Clouds filter the sun. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
One thing that most people don’t think about is the amount of sun you expose to the sun. For instance, if your arms and legs and face are exposed you’d actually get less sun than if the equal amount of skin was exposed to the sun on a large area of skin like your back.
Large contiguous areas of skin will absorb and produce more vitamin D than small areas of the skin even if they are the same surface area.
So there’s too many factors to really decide how much sun exposure is healthy for you. That’s something that will change for you from day to day. Literally. Where you are in the world and what you’re doing that day. You’ll have to ask yourself some questions.
- What time of year is it?
- What time of day is it?
- How tan am I right now (is this the first time out since winter)?
- How fair skinned am I overall?
- How old am I?
- Is it cloudy?
- How clean is the air?
- At what altitude am I hanging out?
- Am I exposing large areas of skin?
- Am I wearing makeup or sunscreen?
These and other questions will factor into your personal sun tolerance levels. Choose wisely.