ua en ru

Intense summer sun is dangerous: How to get vitamin D and not get sunburned

Intense summer sun is dangerous: How to get vitamin D and not get sunburned Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Summer is the season of intense sun, which, on the one hand, is beneficial for vitamin D production, while on the other hand, it can be very damaging to the skin, according to dietitian Oleh Shvets.

When and how to sunbathe

Noon, especially in summer, is the ideal time to get vitamin D from sunlight. The sun is at its highest point, and its rays are most intense. This means less time is needed in the sun for the body to synthesize sufficient vitamin D. Studies show that the body is most efficient at producing this vitamin around noon.

In the UK, 13 minutes of midday sunlight three times a week during summer is sufficient to maintain optimal vitamin D levels among European adults. Research has also shown that 30 minutes of sunlight in Oslo is equivalent to consuming 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D.

Recommendations suggest that for most people with lighter skin, 10-30 minutes of sun exposure three times a week during the summer months is sufficient. People with darker skin may need more time.

It is also important to pay attention to sun protection, as prolonged sun exposure can increase the risk of sunburn. It is recommended to use sunscreen, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect the face and eyes.

Vitamin D production and skin color

Skin color is determined by the level of melanin pigment. People with darker skin have more melanin than those with lighter skin.

Melanin acts as a natural defense against ultraviolet rays by absorbing them and protecting the skin from sunburns and skin cancer. Therefore, people with darker skin need more time in the sun to synthesize the same amount of vitamin D compared to people with lighter skin. Studies indicate that dark-skinned individuals may need between 30 minutes to three hours in the sun, whereas those with lighter skin can achieve this in 15-20 minutes. This leads to an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency among people with darker skin.

Geographical considerations

The level of vitamin D production in the skin also depends on the geographical location. In regions farther from the equator, less ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth's surface due to ozone absorption. This means residents of these regions may need more time in the sun to produce sufficient vitamin D.

For instance, Ukrainians may not always get enough sunlight from October to April for vitamin D synthesis. Therefore, it is important to supplement it through diet and dietary supplements during the winter months.

Dangers of excessive sunlight exposure

Spending too much time in the sun during the summer can have serious health consequences. Major risks include:

  • Sunburns: the most common consequence, characterized by redness, swelling, pain, and blistering.
  • Eye damage: prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can damage the retina, increasing the risk of eye diseases such as cataracts.
  • Skin aging: prolonged sun exposure accelerates skin aging, leading to wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
  • Skin changes: freckles, moles, and other changes may appear as a result of excessive sunlight exposure.
  • Heatstroke: prolonged sun exposure can lead to heatstroke, where body temperature rises to critical levels.
  • Skin cancer: excessive ultraviolet radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Make sure to take measures to protect yourself from sunburns if you plan to spend a long time in the sun.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.