Vitamin D: Does sun cream stop you absorbing the vital vitamin? When to take supplements

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. But between late March and the end of September, people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. Exposing the skin to UVB rays from the sun can help support the body to naturally produce vitamin D. But can wearing suncream potentially stop your body from absorbing the sunlight it needs?

While your body needs exposure from the sun to produce vitamin D, your body needs very little exposure to reap the benefits

Pareena Patel, LloydsPharmacy pharmacist

Pareena Patel, LloydsPharmacy pharmacist, revealed the answer.

While your body needs exposure from the sun to produce vitamin D, Pareena says your body needs very little exposure to reap the benefits.

She explained: “You may only need 15 minutes of exposure to the sun before your body makes enough vitamin D it needs for the day.”

But if you’re out in the sun for long periods of time, your sun safety should be not be compromised, warned Pareena.

She advised: “If you are out in the sun for longer periods of time, you should be wearing sun protection containing SPF 15 or more.

“It’s important to remember that you should not compromise your sun safety to obtain vitamin D.

“There are many other ways to achieve the recommended dosage wither through diet or with a supplement, many of which are available for both adults and children.”

The Department of Health recommends breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough.

Children aged one to four years old should also be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

During the winter months, adults who don’t get much sun exposure may choose to take a vitamin D supplement.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.

It’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D through food, but the vitamin is found in small amounts in oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.

When it comes to what suncream to use for protection against the sun, Pareena said alongside SPF, you should check if the cream or lotion provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

She explained: “UVB radiation is thought to be the cause of sunburn and has linked to some types of skin cancer.

“On the other hand, UVA rays may induce premature ageing and UVA damage can contribute to the development of skin cancer too.

“Besides UVA and UVB rays, infrared-A radiation within the sun’s rays can also cause damage to the skin in a similar way to that of UV radiation.

“There are sun creams available that provide protection against UVA, UVB and Infrared-A radiation, including LloydsPharmacy’s Solero Triple Defence Protection range which is available in SPF 15, 30 and 50.”

If you supplement with vitamin D, when should you stop taking it? Symptoms can develop if you’ve had too much of the vitamin. 

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