The best ways to get vitamin D if you have sun sensitivity


Sun sensitivity can lead to allergic reactions from sitting in the sun, such as blisters and rashes. Here’s what you can do instead.

While sitting in the sun might be your best time of the day, especially during bitter, winter months, for some of us, this time may result in blisters, rashes or sun burns. This is known as sun sensitivity. If you are are used to these allergic reactions because of the sun and are wondering how to get your dose of vitamin D, we’ve got you!

Read on to know how you can bring about some lifestyle changes as well as use specific products to enhance your exposure of vitamin D. Health Shots got in touch with Dr Ritika Shanmugam, Consultant – Dermatology and Cosmetology, to tell us what sun sensitivity means and how to get a natural dose of vitamin D in this case.

A woman looking at the sun.
Right from strengthening our bones to enhancing our immune system, it is vitamin D that helps us lead a healthy life. Image courtesy: Freepik

What is sun sensitivity?

Sun sensitivity or photosensitivity is an allergic reaction triggered by the immune system upon exposure to sunlight. “Symptoms may include sunburn, itching, rash, blisters, or, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. This commonly occurs in areas exposed to sunlight,” says Dr Shanmugam.

How much vitamin D if required in kids and adults?

According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the levels of vitamin D should be as follows:

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  • A baby between the ages of 0-12 months, should get 10 mcg of Vitamin D
  • Kids from one year old to 70-year-old adults should get 15 mcg of Vitamin D
  • Adults more than 71 years old, should get 20 mcg of vitamin D

Also Read: Eat these vitamin D-rich dry fruits for stronger bones

Why is vitamin D essential for our body?

Right from strengthening our bones to enhancing our immune system, vitamin D helps us lead a healthy life. Here are some of the ways vitamin D helps us:

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1. Healthy bones

Vitamin D helps our bodies in absorbing calcium in an efficient manner. This, in turns, helps make our bones stronger. If there is a deficiency of vitamin D, it can cause Rickets, a condition that effects bones, in kids; and in adults, lack of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to decrease in bone density and bone mass.

2. Boosts immunity

Vitamin D reduces the risk of catching autoimmune diseases. A study, published in Nutrients, points out that lack of vitamin D can lead to autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. The study also says that vitamin D helps boost immunity.

How to get vitamin D if you have sun sensitivity?

Vitamin D is essential for the body. Even if you are sensitive to sun rays, there are some changes that you can make to your daily routine and the products that you use to ensure your daily dose of this sunshine vitamin.

1. Timing of sun exposure

Choose a time of sun exposure when UV rays are less intense. Early morning or late afternoon may be the best time. Limit exposure to less than half an hour and use appropriate protection like umbrellas, adequate clothing, and sunglasses.

2. Gradual exposure to sun

Start with short periods of sun exposure, gradually increasing the duration over time. This helps the skin adapt and build tolerance to UVB rays. Begin with smaller body areas, like arms and legs, before expanding to larger areas.

A woman rubbing sunscreen on her hands.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50. Image courtesy: Freepik.

3. Use sunscreen

Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50 to protect against the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen half an hour before sun exposure and reapply every two hours, as its effectiveness lasts only 3-4 hours.

4. Dietary sources

Include vitamin D-rich foods in your diet. These include fatty fish (salmon, sardines), cod liver oil, swordfish, egg yolk, and fortified dairy products.

5. Vitamin D Supplement

Vitamin D supplements come in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Taking them with a meal or snack containing some fat aids absorption. Consult a doctor if your vitamin D levels are low, and consider taking vitamin D supplements. The dosage should be determined based on your vitamin D levels.

6. UV Lamps

UV lamps can mimic sunlight radiation and be used to obtain vitamin D. Consult with a dermatologist before using them, as excessive exposure can be harmful.