The two main ways for our body to absorb vitamin D are from the sun and also through our diet. It is very difficult to absorb vitamin D adequately from food sources and the sun, so a supplement is commonly advised.
Spending time out in the sun is a great way to get your daily fix of vitamin D. For our body to use vitamin D from the sun, a few processes have to take place. First, the sun’s rays hit our skin and expose us to the UV-B rays. After the sun’s rays hit our skin, a few chemical reactions occur in the liver to create the usable form of vitamin D.
The sun is the best source for your body to absorb vitamin D, but there are a couple of points to remember.
Vitamin D absorption is affected by:
- Time of day and year
- The colour of your skin – Individuals with lighter skin need to spend less time in the sun to absorb the same amount of vitamin D as someone with darker skin. This is due to melanin that is in our skin1. Melanin gives our skin colour, and when we have more melanin our skin is darker, which blocks more UV-B rays, therefore blocking the absorption of vitamin D.
- Your geographic location – Those who live farther from the equator, the more of an angle the sun’s rays will hit the earth, and the less UV-B rays there will be to reach you, especially during the winter months.
- Your lifestyle – Do you spend a majority of your time inside working, or studying? Do you work shift work and need to sleep during the day? If this is the case, you may need to consider a vitamin D supplement. However, if you work outdoors, you likely have the opportunity to make vitamin D in your skin.
- How much skin you expose to the sun – When we expose our skin to the UV-B rays, during a day at the beach in a swim suit, at the end of the day, the amount of vitamin D absorbed is equivalent to 10,000- 25,000 IU2. So, the more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can absorb.
- Whether you’re wearing sunscreen – Sunscreen can block up to 98% of UV-B rays1.
- Your age – Older adults have a more difficult time producing vitamin D from sun exposure2.
- Air pollution – Pollution in the air can block some of the UV-B rays.
There are a few foods which contain vitamin D. You can receive natural vitamin D from fish, mushrooms, and fortified vitamin D from milk products, juices, and some cereal. However, even though these foods contain vitamin D, it is not enough to meet your recommended daily value. For example, you would have to eat 6oz of raw portabella mushroom or 7oz of salmon. That’s a lot of food!
We can also take a vitamin D supplement to help increase our absorption and status of vitamin D, since it is difficult to receive enough from the sun and our diet. A supplement in liquid form, such as Ddrops, is easier for our body to absorb than a gel or capsule form. Supplements provide vitamin D in the form of vitamin D2 or D3. It is processed the same way as our skin, going to the liver, then the kidneys. Check out some of the Ddrops liquid supplements here to get your daily dose of vitamin D!
Diana Beirnes is a Ddrops Guest Blogger. She is a nutritionist, cyclist, and Raw Food Chef who loves to experiment in the kitchen. She is passionate about sharing a healthy lifestyle with others and is drawn to coaching friends and family about the importance of food and supplements. Diana believes in a holistic life and practices this by eating vegan, using all natural products, and using recycled products whenever she can.
1Nair, R., Maseehm A. (2012). Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics. Apr-Jun; 3(2): 118-126. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
2Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016). Vitamin D – Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/