The sun: a key part of your bone health The sun: a key part of your bone health

The sun: a key part of your bone health

All natural 1 July, 2016 María Alejandra Tavera

Getting moderate exposure to the sun helps to improve the health of your bones due to the vitamin D that is naturally produced when your skin comes in direct contact with sunlight. While it is important to follow the recommendations of specialists on the use of sunscreen, it is also important for our bodies to receive the benefits of sun exposure with proper precautionary measures.

Even though there are sources of food that contain vitamin D, whether natural, enriched or fortified (meaning that the vitamins have been added to the food product), is not enough to just consume these foods. There is an element of this vitamin that can only be produced through sunlight and that is essential for increasing the concentration of calcium in the bones: vitamin D3.

According to the healthcare experts quoted in an article from the EFE news agency, Sun and Vitamin D: allies for our bones (original article in Spanish) we are now more cautious about the sun and therefore our exposure to it has become minimal. This has decreased the optimal level of this essential vitamin in our bodies which has caused for bone diseases, such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia, to increase. This even has consequences on child development through conditions such as rickets, which causes children’s bones to soften and weaken.  

It is important to be aware that there are factors that may restrict the adequate synthesis of this vitamin such as age (the older you are, the slower the absorption) and skin color (people with darker skin need greater exposure).


When is the best time to be in the sun?

According to researcher Michael Holick, professor at the University of Boston, the best times to be in the sun are the first few hours of the morning and the last few hours of the afternoon, especially before 10:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. Nevertheless, while sunscreen is a must, especially during the summer, it is recommended to apply it between 15 and 20 minutes after being directly in the sun.  

If you are going to be in the sun or wind for a long time, reapplication is recommended, in which case the frequency of reapplication is important. To learn more on this topic, see the article on: Sunscreen: The importance of reapplication