Some sunbathing stalwarts cite our need for vitamin D as their justification for unprotected sun exposure. But they're charring their skin for no good reason: The idea that the sun is the best source of vitamin D is false.
Yes, it's true we need vitamin D to help absorb calcium, and emerging research shows a strong link between the nutrient and lower risk of many cancers. But here's the truth: No good scientific data show that using sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production.
"About 15 minutes of exposing your arms and legs to the sun twice a week will create sufficient vitamin D," even with sunscreen on, says Jeffrey Dover, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. He advises taking a daily supplement containing 1,000 IU of vitamin D and eating fortified dairy products and fatty fish such as salmon for the safest and most effective way to produce the nutrient.
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