Study Examines Sunlight Exposure as a Relevant Vitamin D3 Source

There’s an African proverb that goes: “While the sun is shining, bask in it!”.

No wonder it was known since ancient times that a little sunshine goes a long way.

Actually, our bodies work in synthesis with the sun by producing one of the most crucial vitamins for our health - vitamin D3.

Sunlight is considered a major natural source of vitamin D3, which is why people who are at risk of deficiencies are advised to always get enough sunshine.

This usually includes older adults, but also people who live in high latitude regions and don’t get to see the sun very often.

This is the topic of a new study conducted by a team of scientists from the USA, who examined the effects of sun exposure on the synthesis of vitamin D3 in younger and older adults.

What’s Important

Humans have receptor cells that produce vitamin D3 through a process that starts with the conversion of cholesterol in the skin when it’s exposed to UVB rays.

Vitamin D3 is fat-soluble, and it increases the absorption of magnesium, calcium, and phosphate in the body.

It’s also very important for bone health, better functioning of the immune system, and normal muscle function.

Why Does it Matter

Deficiencies in vitamin D3, on the other hand, are associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis due to lowered bone density, impaired immune system, diabetes, and even cardiovascular diseases.

People who are at risk or have a vitamin D3 deficiency usually need to take supplements, eat more fatty fish and seafood, egg yolks, or foods fortified with vitamin D3, as well as be in the sun more often.

However, despite being a natural source of vitamin D3, sun exposure can be controversial because of the negative effects of the ultra-violet rays.

UV rays have been linked to skin cancer and premature photoaging, which is why the general advice is to always wear sunscreen and protective clothing, especially during mid-day.

The Details

Therefore, the team of scientists who conducted the study examined the effects of moderate sun exposure on the synthesis of vitamin D3.

The study involved two groups of younger and older adults who were exposed to natural outdoor sunlight for 30 minutes during the months of April through June in 2015 and 2018.

The goal of the study was to determine if sensible sun exposure could be an effective method to obtain the optimal amount of vitamin D3 and whether the amount would be the same for both age groups.

It was discovered that in both the younger and older adults there was a positive increase in vitamin D3 synthesis following 30 minutes of sun exposure.

The only difference was in the trends.

The younger adults reached peak vitamin D3 concentration at 24h and 48h post-exposure, while the older adults reached peak concentration at 48h.

This could mean that age does play a part in vitamin D3 synthesis, however, more detailed studies are needed for this to be accurately assessed.

The Takeaway

This study demonstrated that basking in the sun for moderate lengths of time is an adequate way to get the recommended dosage of vitamin D3.

As long as you avoid prolonged sun exposure and get some sun rays to lift your spirits up, your vitamin D3 levels should be at the right place.

Since vitamin D3 is fat-soluble, we recommend you give our Vitamin D3 w/ Organic Coconut Oil a try, for a higher bioavailability and maximum benefits.


Resource: Chalcraft, J.R.; Cardinal, L.M.; Wechsler, P.J.; Hollis, B.W.; Gerow, K.G.; Alexander, B.M.; Keith, J.F.; Larson-Meyer, D.E. Vitamin D Synthesis Following a Single Bout of Sun Exposure in Older and Younger Men and Women. Nutrients 2020, 12, 2237. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082237 

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