Does keeping your skin covered with a high SPF or with clothing (or if you have darkly pigmented skin of color) prevent receiving “enough” light to produce the Vitamin D your body needs?
That is a common question I receive these days and there is a lot of misinformation about this subject. While there is debate about what is the optimal level of Vitamin D (recall that some guidelines recommend levels to prevent disease rather than levels needed to produce optimal health… two different goals!) there is general agreement I believe on some basic issues. Research suggests that 2-8 minutes of summer sunlight daily (at the latitude where I practice) to unprotected skin is generally sufficient and also should carry most people through the winter when the sun is less intense or clothing covers your skin (recall that Vitamin D is stored by your body).
It is possible that some people are not, for various reasons, producing enough Vitamin D from sunlight for their body’s needs. However, that does NOT mean you need to top wearing SPF or buy a tanning bed membership! It just means that you need either dietary source or dietary supplement (typically this would be D3… good dietary sources of Vitamin D include such foods as salmon, sardines (I know, but they are great for your health in many ways), eggs, and fortified foods like some juices and breakfast cereals… so check out these and other dietary sources to help you achieve your desired Vitamin D levels. And check with your family doctor about whether you need to have your Vitamin D levels checked and also the number of units to take daily if you need a supplement-but please do not overexpose yourself to sunlight or tanning beds to get your Vitamin D-this will accelerate aging of your skin as well as possibly increasing your risk of skin cancer.