Made from the cholesterol in our skin, vitamin D is produced when the body is exposed to sunlight. According to health experts, this unique vitamin which is essential for bone and joint health also helps to boost immunity.
We are all aware of the fact that the body needs adequate sun exposure for it to be able to produce vitamin D, but what you may not know is the correct way and time of soaking up the sunlight for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels, especially if you are not taking vitamin D supplements, The Indian Express explains.
Mentioning that sunshine is needed to help the body create vitamin D, nutritionist Leema Mahajan, in an Instagram post said that vitamin D is required by the body to create many proteins and enzymes that are important for health and to prevent a number of diseases as well.
She adds that vitamin D deficiency can cause bone loss, muscle loss, hair loss, mood changes, weight gain, and respiratory issues.
Also sharing details regarding the best way to soak up sunlight, the nutritionist informs that the best time, is between 12-3 pm, but while avoiding exposing your eyes to direct sunlight.
However, according to Dr Udit Kapoor, senior consultant, Orthopedics, Asian Hospital, Faridabad, in the Indian state of Haryana, the ideal time to soak up the sunlight is when the sun rays are not too harsh as direct exposure to such rays can reportedly cause cutaneous melanoma (CM), a malignant tumour that is formed by pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.
But according to Leema, for those with dark skin, not more than 30 minutes of sun exposure is required and for those with light skin – a maximum of 15 minutes is supposedly sufficient.
The nutritionist further suggests exposing the arms, back, and shoulders. According to her, the more skin is exposed, the better it is.
Dr Kapoor on the other hand said it is best to avoid “longer durations” of sun exposure.
The expert also suggests using sunscreens post-sunbathing, and not during, as sunscreens don’t allow the UV rays to be absorbed.
Dr Padmini B V, head clinical dietitian, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore is reported to have said, “Do not use any sunscreen or lotions that may inhibit the vitamin D from being absorbed in the skin.”
The doctor also reportedly advises wearing white or light-coloured clothes as this help absorb good sunlight.
Exercising during sun exposure helps in better absorption of vitamin D and helps to make bones stronger, Dr Padmini states.
She adds, “It also helps in regulating the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). Exposure to sunlight also enhances cognitive and brain function. Hence, it is very good if children play during day time. And soaking sunshine is a good therapy for patients under depression.”
There is an increase in the production of serotonin, a hormone responsible for stabilising mood and making a person feel happy, and calm when a person is exposed to sunlight, said Aman Puri, Founder, of Steadfast Nutrition.
Speaking about how vitamin D can affect the mind and a person’s moods as well, he is quoted as saying, “Lack of sunlight can cause the serotonin levels to dip, which is associated with a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder — a form of depression that occurs with changing seasons.”