Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and we get most of our vitamin D from exposure to direct sunlight on our skin. That is why it is often called the sunshine vitamin. Ageing makes the skin less productive for vitamin D. The problem is made worse when older people often spend more time indoors. Vitamin D deficiency is estimated to affect up to 50% of the adult population worldwide.
How long should you spend in the sun? The amount of time you need to spend in the sun for your skin to make enough vitamin D depends on a number of things:
- your skin type (for example, how dark your skin is or how easily you get sunburnt),
- the time of year and
- what time of day it is.
Short daily periods of sun exposure without sunscreen during the summer months (April to October) will be enough for most people to make sufficient vitamin D. The most effective time of day for vitamin D production is between 11am and 3pm.
Everyone needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and phosphorus from their diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones. A lack of vitamin D can cause softening and weakening of bones which in turn lead to bone deformities. In children, lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.
We can also get vitamin D from some foods, such as oily fish (for example salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and meat. It is also added to all margarine and infant formula milk, and to some breakfast cereals, soya products, dairy products, powdered milks and low-fat spreads.
It is virtually impossible to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin D from our diet. Fortunately you can obtain vitamin D supplements online, which is a very convenient way of ensuring you avoid that possible vitamin D deficiency.