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The exact percentage of people deficient in this important vitamin varies as it depends highly on which groups are assessed as well as location. For example, those who live above a certain latitude (37 degrees North) in the United States are at much greater risk for vitamin D deficiency than us lucky Floridians who can get an ample amount with a responsible amount of sun exposure.
Vitamin D is a prohormone that was once thought only to be of major importance to skeletal and bone health but has since been found to be key in several major hormonal responses in the body. In layman’s terms, vitamin D is exceedingly important for your vitality and energy levels as well as hormone balance.
Get Vitamin D from the Sun Safely
The best way to receive vitamin D is from direct sunlight. However, it’s well known that the powerful UVB (and UVA) radiation that direct sunlight exposes you to can be harmful not only to your overall health by magnifying the chances of skin cancer, but it can also prematurely age your skin due to damage and wear from the exposure.
Safely getting vitamin D from the sun comes down to exposing yourself responsibly to the sun for a “goldilocks” amount of time. Experts agree on a range of 10-30 minutes a few times a week being sufficient enough depending on your complexion. Lighter skinned individuals have an easier time getting vitamin D from the sun and require far less exposure.
If you are going to spend more than this amount of time outside, it is best to use a good sunscreen to protect your skin.
What to Look for in a Good Sunscreen
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It indicates a sunscreen’s effectiveness at protecting your skin from UVB rays. SPF multiplies how long it may take for your skin to burn in direct sunlight. If you start getting red or flushed after 1 minute of sun exposure, having SPF15 sunscreen on would afford you 15 times that—or 15 minutes.
However, most people don’t start getting red after 1 minute of sun exposure. For most purposes of leisure, SPF30 is perfectly adequate. If you plan to stay in the sun for a long time, SPF30 reapplied every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming will provide protection against UVB rays, and individuals who have very sensitive skin may opt for higher SPF in their sunscreen of choice.