Medical Mythbuster: Can You Really Get Enough Vitamin D from the Sun?

Vitamin D is an important vitamin when it comes to our health, helping to prevent fractures and osteoporosis as well as bolster the immune system. While it’s true that when your skin is exposed to the sun it manufactures its own vitamin D, for most people that amount probably isn’t enough.

This is because sun exposure is variable from season to season, and many people cover their skin to avoid sunburn on summer days and to stay warm on winter days. Using sunscreen each day can also significantly reduce your vitamin D production. Fortunately, there are other ways to get vitamin D other than the sun. In fact, food or supplements can give you all the vitamin D you need.

There are two main kinds of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Both forms are available in generous amounts in foods including salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as beef liver and egg yolks. Many common foods are also fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, cereal, and some orange juices, which can increase the daily amount in your diet.

Another method to get vitamin D is through taking supplements. The daily recommended allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for healthy people age 1-69. Those over the age of 70 need a little more, so 800 IU is recommended for them. You can learn more about vitamin D supplements at this NIH web page. It’s important to know that if you are taking vitamin D supplements you should follow the guidelines and not take more than you need. Most Americans are getting enough vitamin D through a combination of the sun, diet and using supplements. Talk to your primary care provider if you have questions about the amount of vitamin D you need.

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK


Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Are you or the patient 4+ years old?
Are you in Massachusetts at time of video visit?
Do you have a Reliant PCP?
Do you have access to email on the device you are using?
By continuing I’m giving Reliant permission to communicate with me via text or email to complete this visit.

Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Do you have a MyChart account?