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Published on December 04, 2013

Direct sunlight for Vitamin D? How much exposure do we need?

December 4, 2013

Vitamin DYour body needs vitamin D to build strong bones, maintain a healthy immune system, and regulate inflammation.

The most common sources of vitamin D are certain foods, dietary supplements, and sunlight. In a world without skin cancer, everyone could obtain vitamin D by soaking up ultraviolet (UV) B radiation from sunlight, but the danger of sun overexposure complicates matters.

The Vitamin D Council contends it is possible to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin D from the sun while avoiding sunburn, as long as you know your burn threshold. You can get all the vitamin D you need in approximately half the time it takes your skin to begin burning—15 minutes for someone with very pale skin or up to two hours for individuals with dark skin.

D-Rich Foods

Because UV radiation is linked to skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology urges people to obtain vitamin D from foods—eggs, certain fish, and fortified milk and yogurt— and supplements. Adults are advised to consume 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day until age 71. How much vitamin D comes in a serving? Eight ounces of orange juice or milk contain 100 IU, one egg yolk has 25 IU, and three ounces of sockeye salmon weigh in at a hefty 794 IU. Talk with your doctor about which source of vitamin D is best for you.

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