The majority of people can get enough vitamin D by exposing their hands, forearms, or lower legs to sunlight for short periods of time each day – especially between 11am and 3pm from late March/early April to the end of September.
It’s difficult to determine exactly how much sunlight a person needs to meet their body’s vitamin D requirements, as this can vary depending on factors such as how much skin someone has exposed, or how much melanin people have in their skin, for example, due to their ethnicity.
Someone with darker skin may need to spend longer in the sun for their body to be able to synthesize adequate vitamin D, than someone with lighter skin. However, generally speaking, it’s a good idea to make getting outside for some fresh air a daily habit. This can mean different things to different people – you could go for a walk, a bike ride, or simply sit and relax in your garden or a local park.
During the winter, our vitamin D production levels are generally much lower, as there’s less sunlight available in the UK. But even on a grey, gloomy day, it’s still possible to get some of the UV rays needed to produce vitamin D – so it’s still worth getting outside during daylight hours.
If, for any reason, getting outside for some fresh air isn’t an option, or you’d just like to maximise your sunlight exposure as much as possible, then you could also spend some time each day sitting by an open window. It’s important that it’s open, so that the window panes don’t block the UV rays from hitting your skin.
Note: While sunlight exposure is incredibly important for the synthesis of vitamin D, too much time in the sun can also come with significant other health risks, including sunburn and an increased risk of skin cancer. As with most things, it’s about finding a healthy balance – but you should always cover up your skin or apply sunscreen well before your skin starts to burn.