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You Can't Rely on the Sun for Vitamin D

Vitamin D Production In Cornwall

How Much Vitamin D Does the Sun Give in Cornwall?

You have either said or heard it, “I am going to get my Vitamin D naturally from the sun.” But what if I were to tell you that the chance of that happening is pretty small? Would that surprise you? If it does, read on and find out why Canadians can’t rely on just good old sunlight alone to keep them healthy. Let’s start at the basics and go from there. You already know about vitamins, so let’s skip that.

Why do we need vitamin C?

Well, it is essential for health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Short list of problems linked to not having enough Vitamin D: tuberculosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type-1 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased heart failure, myopathy, breast and other cancers. It is projected that the incidence of many of these diseases could be reduced by 20%-50% or more by maintaining proper levels of vitamin D. ( So there you go. We definitely need it to stay healthy.

Where is Vitamin D produced?

Vitamin D is produced in your body’s largest organ, your skin. Any area of your skin that is exposed to the right type of sunlight will produce Vitamin D. Note the words “the right type of sunlight”, not just any sunlight. The more skin exposed, the greater the amount of vitamin D produced. Hmm, maybe those naked sunbathers have something going on?

What Part of Sunlight Produces Vitamin D?

Sunlight contains a large spectrum of wavelengths of light commonly called rays. You can visually see some of them clearly in a rainbow’s distinct colors. But to keep it simple, we will only focus on the sun’s rays that affect your skin and it turns out there are two of them. These are Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). You cannot visually see ultraviolet light, but you can see what it does to your skin when you tan or burn.

UVA for Tanning

UVA rays are what cause you to tan and they do not promote the production of vitamin D. They can pass relatively unfiltered through the atmosphere regardless of the angle of the sun or cloud cover. UVA rays can damage skin which is why you can get burned on a cloudy day if exposed long enough. UVB rays can even pass through glass which is why you can also get burned behind a glass window. However, and this is important, UVA rays will not stimulate the production of vitamin D.

UVB Rays for Burning and Vitamin D Production

UVB rays cause you to not tan but burn quickly, and they promote the production of vitamin D. UVB rays are a lot stronger than UVA rays and damage your skin faster and more deeply. They cannot pass through clouds easily, through clothing, or even glass.

When Can My Skin Produce Vitamin D in Cornwall?

Now the important part, UVB rays can only promote vitamin D production when the sun is at a steep angle with respect to the Earth. This only happens in Cornwall five months of the year and for a very limited amount of time.

Month Time Total Possible
April 11:30AM – 2:30PM 3 Hours
May 10:30AM – 3:30PM 5 Hours
June 10:10AM – 3:50PM 5 Hours
July 10:30AM – 3:40PM 5 Hours
August 11:10AM – 3:00PM 4 Hours

You Cannot Rely on the Sun for Vitamin D Production

Here is what it means to be Canadian. Because Cornwall is so far north, Vitamin D will only be produced sufficiently during five months of the year! That means your body will not be producing any Vitamin D most of the year and most of your life! If you work in an office, chances are your vitamin D production is near zero.

Getting Burned on Vitamin D?

Here is the catch 22. Your body can only produce vitamin D with UVB rays, but UVB rays are also very harmful to your skin. Clearly nature wasn’t having a good day when it designed that part of our health system. So what do we do?

Get Vitamin D from Natural Foods

You should be coming to the conclusion that living in Canada means that we need to be even more careful about the foods we consume. Sunlight cannot be our primary source of vitamin D. However, that also does not mean that we need to go and buy vitamin D tablets to stay healthy. There are plenty of options.

Dietary good sources of Vitamin D include milk, cheese, egg yolks, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, grass-fed beef and other red meat, mushrooms, cod liver oil, fortified milk (including fortified almond and coconut milk), and fortified cereals. For example, just 4 ounces of wild salmon offers about 150% of your daily RDA (recommended daily allowance) of Vitamin D. One tablespoon of cod liver oil can provide 300% of your daily RDA. And since your body stores Vitamin D, just eating a little fish and taking a few tablespoons of cod liver oil fairly regularly can fully satisfy your Vitamin D needs—and preclude the need for Vitamin D from sun exposure.

Want to get your Vitamin D tested, you can?

This can be done with your Doctor or through a home kit that is then sent to a lab. If you are interested in monitoring your body’s levels of vitamin D, check out the following websites.