Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and the skin is much more closely linked to your overall health than many people even realize. The condition of our skin plays a large role in self-esteem and self-confidence, which can influence our daily lives. But good skincare is more than washing your face in the morning and at night. Good skincare starts by nourishing your body from the inside out, and it plays an important role in maintaining overall health.
There are many factors that go into maintaining healthy skin, including protecting skin from sun damage, staying hydrated, and eating a nutritious diet. One of them is Vitamin D which we will discuss here:
Vitamin D is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin.” As a critical nutrient for bone development, it is a global issue that half of the people worldwide are deficient in this vitamin. While it is important to protect your skin from UV rays, we still need some sunlight to encourage Vitamin D production in the body. It is possible to balance sunlight exposure for Vitamin D production but still minimize potential sun damage.
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin, which is made from the cholesterol in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Thus, it is said that it’s important to get enough sun for maintaining the optimal vitamin D levels. But, too much exposure to sunlight also has its own set of health risks.
Under the right circumstances, 10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need. Unfortunately, the “right circumstances” are elusive: the season, the time of day, where you live, cloud cover, and even pollution affect the amount of UVB that reaches our skin.
Our skin’s production of vitamin D is influenced by :
- Time of day – Midday is the best time to get vitamin D, as the sun is at its highest point and your body may manufacture it most efficiently around that time of day. This means you may need less time in the sunlight at midday.
- Amount of skin exposed -The more skin a person exposes, the more vitamin D the body will make. Exposing the back, for instance, allows the body to produce more vitamin D than just the hands and face. People suffering from vitiligo and white patches can benefit from sitting under the sun by inducing some pigmentation around the area.
- Age – (people ages 65 and over generate only one-fourth as much as people in their 20s do)
- Skin Color– Darker-skinned people have more melanin, a compound that protects against skin damage by reducing the amount of UVB light absorbed. Darker-skinned people need more time in sunlight to make the same amount of vitamin D as lighter-skinned people.
- Location– People who live farther away from the equator need more time in the sun, as more UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer in these areas.
- Sunscreen use (though experts don’t all agree on the extent to which sunscreen interferes with sun-related vitamin D production).
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!
Care to be taken post sunbath: It’s best to apply sunscreen after 10–30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to avoid the harmful consequences of excess sunlight. Your exposure time should depend on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight.
Although sunlight is great for making vitamin D, too much sunlight can be dangerous. Some consequences of too much sunlight include sunburn, eye damage, skin aging, and other skin changes, heatstroke, and skin cancer.