Information about sunlight exposure can be conflicting and confusing. We know we need some sunshine, but we also know we don’t want skin cancer or premature aging.

We need our vitamin D

Sunlight exposure is essential for health. Sunlight enables us to:

  • synthesize vitamin D

  • foster a healthy skin biome as it kills bacteria and fungi

  • promote hormone balance.

Scientists recognize dozens of uses for vitamin D in our bodies. Low levels are associated with miscarriage, pregnancy complications, and poor neonatal outcomes, not to mention almost every chronic illness.

UV Index

The intensity of ultraviolet rays, known as the UV index, is the determining factor in sun safety. The UV index gradually increases in the morning until high noon, when it begins to decrease again, making morning and evening light the safest for our skin. Hours will vary based upon season and location, but typically before 11:00am and after 3:00pm are safe times. There are several free UV index apps that use your location to help determine good times to be outdoors. (I use UVlens.)

Get 15-30 minutes of Daily sunlight

It is considered conventional wisdom to wear sunscreen daily, but if we always block UV exposure, we miss out on its benefits. Practice getting 15-30 minutes of morning or evening light, without sunscreen, and with as little clothes as possible, three times per week. Use sunscreen and physical barriers when you are out during the peak of the day, or avoid it altogether.

Christina Veneman