For most of us the answer seems clear immediately – definitely more than we had in the last few months! As the end of February is approaching, our bodies are using up the stores of the “sunshine vitamin” – the vitamin D we made during the summer. Reaction of the skin to sunlight (especially UVB radiation) is our basic source of vitamin D. In the UK, even on sunny days between October and February, there is not enough UVB radiation to facilitate vitamin D production. That’s why our body stores part of the vitamin produced in summer for winter time. Vitamin D can be also found in few foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver and some others.
Vitamin D has become a hot topic only recently. Initially its role was recognised in utilisation of calcium from food and the impact on bone and teeth health. More recently scientists have discovered a connection between vitamin D and mental health and more. Vitamin D deficiency has been found to play a role in:
- rickets in children / osteomalacia in adults
- severe asthma in children
- body pains and aches
- low mood
- increased risk of cardiovascular disease
To answer the question from the title – ideally you should have 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure 2-3 times a week. Another important factor is skin colour – people with darker skin have to spend more time in the sun compared to lighter skin tones.
Sunbathing is not that straightforward affair these days as it also brings other health risks and need for protection against UV radiation. SPF of 30 decreases vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%. Having all this in mind it is better to be in the sun for shorter periods regularly than have a sunbathing binge.
The only way to check your vitamin D levels is to have a blood test. You can benefit from our comprehensive blood profile that includes over 40 different markers including vitamin D with results available in 4 – 6 hours. If you find out that you are vitamin D deficient our experienced doctors are happy to advise you on supplements and treatments that could help you to get your vitamin D under control again.