As our exposure to essential sunlight varies with the changing seasons, so does our body’s ability to produce vitamin D. The majority of vitamin D is synthesized by our bodies through the skin.
Sunlight’s UV rays are crucial for the production of vitamin D3, and the liver and kidneys play a role in converting it into its active form.
Recent research has provided insights into the connection between sun exposure, skin pigmentation, and geographical location, emphasizing the significance of comprehending these factors for maintaining optimal health.
As per the information provided, the main source of vitamin D is the skin’s synthesis when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun. Nevertheless, several factors affect this mechanism. Individuals with restricted sun exposure, including disabled individuals, infants, the elderly, and those with darker skin, may face a higher likelihood of inadequate production of vitamin D3. This insufficiency can result in a decrease in bone density and an elevated risk of fractures.
According to research carried out in Valencia, Spain, it was found that during spring and summer, exposing 25% of the body to the sun for approximately 8 to 10 minutes at noon is enough to generate the recommended levels of vitamin D. However, in winter, it is necessary to expose 10% of the body to the sun for nearly 2 hours. Additionally, individuals with darker skin may require even longer sun exposure to attain the optimal levels of vitamin D.
As per the information received, in temperate climates during the summer, individuals with light skin may only require 10 minutes of exposure to 10% of their body’s surface area, such as the arms and face, to produce vitamin D. However, factors such as age, environmental conditions (such as clouds, ozone, and air pollution), and skin pigmentation can disrupt this synthesis. As winter approaches, the challenge becomes more difficult.
Cold weather prompts people to cover up, reducing their skin’s exposure to UVB rays. Research indicates that above approximately 35 degrees latitude, the limitations of UVB rays during the winter months impact vitamin D synthesis. Nevertheless, the body has the ability to store vitamin D in the liver and fat tissues, allowing for synthesis opportunities during the spring, summer, and fall.
During the winter season, it is essential to take into account the reduced availability of natural sunlight, which can limit our exposure to sunlight. Therefore, it becomes crucial to consider both dietary sources and supplements to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D.
Additionally, it is recommended that healthy adults consume 600 IU of vitamin D daily. However, for individuals above the age of 70 with minimal sun exposure, the recommended intake increases to 800 IU.
To support vitamin D levels during the colder months, there are various dietary sources available such as salmon, fortified cow’s milk, plant-based milks, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and breakfast cereals. These alternatives can help ensure sufficient vitamin D intake.