Probably the largest benefit of sunlight is that it boosts our vitamin D levels and it’s estimated that 50% of the people across the world are affected by some level of deficiency. This can be due to various factors but a lack of vitamin D-rich foods and sunlight (as our bodies produce vitamin D when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit our skin) play a significant role.
We need vitamin D for a number of important bodily functions, including the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Research also suggests that it can strengthen bones and muscles, improve our immune system, and boost our mood and energy levels.
In the UK, from April until the end of September, it’s often possible to get enough vitamin D by spending time outside. Approximately 10-30 minutes of exposure to sunlight each day is enough for most people. However, if you have darker skin, you’ll likely need longer – as you’ll have more melanin, which affects the production of vitamin D.
Your exposure time will also depend on how sensitive your skin is. If you’re planning on staying in the sun for longer than 10-30 minutes, it’s best to apply sunscreen after this time.
However, in the winter months, our sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB rays, so most of us won’t make sufficient vitamin D. Therefore, the NHS recommends that we consider taking supplements – though you can also try incorporating more vitamin D-rich foods into your diet, like mushrooms and tofu. To find out more about the benefits of vitamin D and how to make sure you’re getting enough, you can read our handy guide.