By: Mission Healthy Living
May 21, 2019
You’ve heard that exposure to sunlight gives you vitamin D. But do you know how that works? And more importantly, is sunlight even a good way to get vitamin D, given the risk that prolonged sun exposure poses to our skin?
It’s true that vitamin D is an important nutrient for overall heath—specifically for strong bones and a well-functioning immune system. However, we actually don’t get vitamin D from the sun. Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight directly. (That means letting daylight into your house doesn’t get you much, if any benefit.)
However, we know it’s important to limit our exposure to direct sunlight to avoid the risk of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.”
Good news: Sunlight isn’t the only way to get vitamin D. The National Institutes of Health report that a variety of foods, from fatty fish to cheese to fortified milk, offer an alternate way to get this vital vitamin. So, between good nutrition and balanced exposure to sunlight, we can achieve our vitamin D needs pretty easily without much risk.
Remember that if you plan to be outside for a while—even on a cloudy day—wear clothing that covers your body and/or apply sunscreen as directed. For more information on protecting yourself from harmful UV exposure, visit the American Academy of Dermatology website.