When it comes to vitamin D, there are quite a few misconceptions about where you get it from, how much you need and if sunscreen blocks the amount you receive. We want to make sure you know everything you need when it comes to vitamin D because sometimes it is fun to be ‘a know it all’!
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the intestines and in short helps harden your bones so it is pretty important you are getting enough of it.
Where do you get it from?
There are two types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. You can get these from foods such as egg yolks, tuna, mushrooms and salmon. Some foods are ‘vitamin D2 and D3 fortified’ because even though we would be getting some vitamin D from our food, they aren’t the types of food that you would eat in large quantities so it is important to up our intake of vitamin D through other avenues. Other ways you can do this is by taking vitamin D supplements or where we come in: the sun. More specifically, UVB rays.
However, here’s a bit of a curveball. You are not actually receiving this vitamin from your food or the sun. Our skin already has vitamin D present but it needs either the sun or certain foods to activate it. Then, our body heat needs to be at an optimal 37 degrees Celsius to finish off the reaction.
So what about sunscreen? Where do we come in?
If we are supposed to get vitamin D from sun rays and sunscreen is supposed to block sun rays, we won’t get enough of it, right? Wrong! You get your daily dose of vitamin D from just 10 minutes in the sun, and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve you lying outside face up for 10 minutes. It can even be when you're walking to your letterbox, sticking your head out the window to listen in on the neighbourhood gossip or even having the sun blare onto you whilst you’re chilling on the couch - all of this adds up!
Will sunscreen limit the amount of vitamin D you receive?
When it comes to food and supplements, sunscreen will have no effect on the amount of vitamin D you receive. In terms of receiving it from the sun, most people don’t ever apply enough sunscreen so you may be getting your daily dose as a result of not having enough on. But also, as much as we try, no sunscreen is perfect so just being in the sun with your SPF on, you’ll still be getting that vitamin D! No sunscreen blocks 100% of the rays (our sunscreens protect up to 98%), so even if you’ve perfected your application and reapplication technique, that 2% will still get through. Turns out a little imperfection is sometimes a good thing…
- You activate the vitamin D in your skin through food, supplements and the sun
- You need 10 minutes of sun to get enough vitamin D to last you a day or two
- Sunscreen doesn’t block 100% of sun rays so it does not have an effect on the amount of vitamin D you receive