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Summer clothing for vitamin D production

 
pollinator
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All shirts these days advertise a SPF 50+ which means I get a wicked farmer's tan and not enough vitamin D even when out all day every day.  Plain white cotton Tees are the exception, but they are practically disposable if working construction or homesteading, not really sustainable.  Naked is not an option, unfortunately.

Anybody have a suggestion for a shirt that allows some light through, is tough enough for homesteading, and comfortable for actually working in the heat?
 
pollinator
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I do not rely on the sun for vitamin D, it is just to valuable in times of covid and other illness.     I take a supplement each day.     That said  I avoid mid day sun and do work in morning and evening time as you want to limit the chance of skin cancer.


Another factor is blacks have a more difficult time with the production of Vitamin D and should supplement.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16549493/


So advise your black friends to take vitamin D3.  
 
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There have been a few studies to show that it's pretty impossible to generate sufficient vitamin d just from sunshine, even if you lay out in the sun in a speedo for hours per day. Nevermind the fact that you'll be much more likely to get skin cancer doing stuff like that. Vitamin d supplements are nearly dirt cheap and easy to come by.
 
R Scott
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"The medicine is in the dose"  Those that avoid the sun or are religious about sunscreen have higher incidence of cancer than those with healthy tans. Healthy meaning a bronze tone but never peeled to get it.  As told to me by one of my cancer docs.  They actually prescribed me more sun.




 
master pollinator
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How long do you expect a shirt to last? I buy cheapo cotton tank tops from the thrift store and they last me a few years as work shirts. I wear them pretty much to rags, though. I'm also a fan of just baring skin while working. But we don't have any neighbours 😁
 
R Scott
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I work with the Amish and Mennonites, so there is a minimum level of coverage needed.  That also rules out most of the second hand t shirts with questionable logos and images.

 
gardener
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Honestly,my favourite for working in the sun is thrift store high quality men's dress shirts a size or two too big. I used to buy them in a rich area where they were of the $100+ new variety. Light weight, tight weave, well made, durable. Who cares for outdoor work if they are a bit frayed at the collar or have a small stain? I wore a cotton t-shirt or tank under the dress shirt and was suddenly I was dressed like my grandfather dressed for farm work (well, except I don't wear suspenders) and end up cooler than just wearing a t-shirt. Arms never burned even working 10-12 hours in the sun, never felt the need for the SpF 50 shirts which feel icky and hot to me.  Lightweight preferably cotton gloves.

Then add a wide brimmed hat if I am not on a construction site in a hardhat, and no sunscreen necessary.  

 
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I have a light colored linen long sleeved shirt for working in the yard as I burn easily. I've always heard that about 15 minutes out in the sun is enough to get enough vitamin D, assuming you have some exposed skin of course. Walking the dog every day is usually in T shirt and shorts, but I do take a supplement as well. I would think a lighter weave fabric that lets some sun through would work well if you'll be out longer.
 
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There have been a few studies to show that it's pretty impossible to generate sufficient vitamin d just from sunshine



That's quite contrary to everything I've ever heard or read on the topic. Can you reference such a study?

Here's a bit of what the Harvard Medical School says (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d):
Under the right circumstances, 10 to 15 minutes of sun on the arms and legs a few times a week can generate nearly all the vitamin D we need. Unfortunately, the "right circumstances" are elusive: the season, the time of day, where you live, cloud cover, and even pollution affect the amount of UVB that reaches your skin. What's more, your skin's production of vitamin D is influenced by age (people ages 65 and over generate only one-fourth as much as people in their 20s do), skin color (African Americans have, on average, about half as much vitamin D in their blood as white Americans), and sunscreen use (though experts don't all agree on the extent to which sunscreen interferes with sun-related vitamin D production).

Also, the skin cancer concern is generally misplaced, although I'm sure it does wonders for the bottom line of sunscreen manufacturers. For a strong and health-oriented counter to that concern, see https://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-engineer-a-successful-day-of-sunbathing/.

Personally, I've learned to favour midday sun as being optimal, although I never sunbathe. However, I don't work even an hour in strong summer sun without taking at least a brief shade break, and I generally wear a cotton tee and a beat-up old broad-brimmed hat (which completes my "Farmer Dave" look ). I'm 75, so I do take vitamin D -- just one 1000 IU tablet in the summer and three a day when the sun is weaker.

 
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I agree that sun is best and the form of Vitamin D produced by sun on the skin is different and more beneficial.

https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/sunlight-and-vitamin-d-theyre-not-the-same-thing/
 
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R Scott wrote:I work with the Amish and Mennonites, so there is a minimum level of coverage needed.  That also rules out most of the second hand t shirts with questionable logos and images.


Buy a shirt from them they have centuries of experience as to what works.
Full protection overalls might work.   I have a jumpsuit that was uniform for shelf stockers that sys Mark it Store on the back which stays cool with its loose fit and air flow when I am cutting with a scythe.
 
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Plus if you take a statin, you block a necessary precursor to Vitamin D, so no matter how much sun you get your body can't generate D?
 
pollinator
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I prefer long sleeves, but then take off my shirt for 20 minutes or so each day.  If you do this from the start of the season you  can keep a bit of natural tan going, so you don't get fried on the first really sunny day.

Even just short sleeves while working outdoors will help with vitamin d levels.
 
pollinator
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I recently bought my daughter and I each a package of these T-shirts, in different colors.  (I like men's T-shirts, as they are longer, and generally sturdier fabric, than women's.)  The fabric is a little rough, but fairly heavy-weight and should last a while.  At the price, for a package of ten, I thought they were worth it.  https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0828N8HWT?ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details&th=1&psc=1
 
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Another vote for thrift store old guy shirts or old lady shirts - loose, lightweight, cotton or linen button down, long or short sleeves.
 
pollinator
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A Philipsen wrote:Another vote for thrift store old guy shirts or old lady shirts - loose, lightweight, cotton or linen button down, long or short sleeves.


I prefer to keep it as natural as possible (but not naked). No supplements, no 'sunscreen', no synthetic fabrics, or fabrics treated with whatever chemicals. So I've got two of those second-hand long-sleeved white cotton 'old lady' shirts. I'd love to have some of pure linen (batist, the finest woven linen) too, but I'll have to sew them myself (once I find the time to do so).
 
pollinator
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I don't supplement in the summer and tend to get at minimum 20 minutes in sun, most generally far more daily.  The garden is packed, so there are lots of opportunities for shade so that I don't burn.  However, multiple doctors including a top virologist from Idaho (I forget his name) suggest that above a certain line on the earth, it is impossible to get enough vitamin D from about November through April even if you were out bare naked all day, every day.  I take 5000 IU during vitamin D deficiency season.  There have been multiple reports that almost no coronavirus deaths happened unless one was deficient in this essential vitamin.  It is key to immune function.
 
pollinator
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When I was much younger [and prettier] I bought a swimsuit that let the sun through to minimize tan lines. It wasn't this following brand but you get the idea [https://www.kiniki.com/pages/tan-through]
It worked very well. I am absolutely opposed to putting various chemicals on my skin that "preserve you from the harm of sun rays". https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/
Your skin was not made to absorb these chemicals. It was made to take in the sun's rays and convert it into useful vitamin D.
These days, I won't produce myself in those as they tend to be a bit too skimpy and show too many wrinkles.
The human body was made to take in the rays of the sun and convert them in very useful vitamin D, but, like everything, MODERATION is the key. Same as with alcohol: A little wine once in a while is OK, but drinking a week's worth in an hour is dumb.
As far as "taking a pill" to get your vitamin D, it is not that simple either: https://www.insider.com/vitamin-d-absorption
Your skin type is also a factor. German skin tends to turn red, blister and peel, so I'm sorry but if you have Germanic ancestry and stay in the early afternoon sun too long, you *are* flirting with skin cancer. Hispanic skin won't get injured as fast [but still don't go all out!] A sunburn IS an injury, no matter the skin type!
My skin turns very dark very fast even with little exposure, but still, I try to never allow for sunburn. It is that repetitive injury [burn] to your skin that gets you closer to cancer. As you body tries to create more melanin to create a *normal* sun screen, if you overwhelm your body' defenses with over exposure for your skin type, you are asking for it!
 
gardener
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I know you may not want to do this, but if you can, get a Vitamin D test just to check your levels.  If you are  pretty normal, relatively healthy person, then you may well be making enough.  You might even be making and ingesting enough Vit D right now, as you are, with your present practices.  That would answer it for you.

But you also might not... I used to live in Oregon, and my Vitamin D was always low.  I supplemented with raw fish oil and sometimes also D3 to get my levels up.  Not so surprising for the area, though.

Now I live in the southern part of NM near the US/ Mexico border. I drink raw milk and eat some raw cod liver oil. I do a ton of gardening and stuff outside and am very tan.  I don't wear sunscreen. I wear shorts so short...well, very short, and little tank tops.  The stripes on my feet from my shoe-tan look so dark they look like I have filthy ankles.   And I just got my Vit D tested and it was still below range!

I have been chronically ill in my life with things like Lyme, auto-immune, skin, gut, and mold-induced illnesses, but I'm quite healed now.  I have had low Vit D on most tests, and normally supplement it.  But I took a break this year to see if my skin could make enough from this glorious desert sun, and to my shock, no it's not.  

Just some thoughts.  I know a lot of people have touched on this issue of not necessarily making enough D on your own.  I hope my personal example makes it more concrete for people looking into this.
 
Kim Goodwin
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But as far as shirts tough enough for working outside in the heat go - my husband really likes Columbia shirts.  They have a few different options.  He liked full coverage and wears button downs, I think it's their Bahama line?  They have lasted the longest, even with all the mesquite and acacia thorns, and tons of trips to the laundry.
 
Cara Campbell
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If you shower after  sun exposure you can negate the D
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/05/12/shocking-update-sunshine-can-actually-decrease-your-vitamin-d-levels.aspx

Also, it takes A LOT of vitamin D to get you out of the low range. I live in Florida and, thanks to Dr. Mercola, knew to have my D tested over 20 years ago. It was very low and deliberately exposing myself to the sun as well as taking 50,000 units per week finally got me out of the danger zone. YOu also need K2 and magnesium for the D to assimilate properly. Mercola.com has a wealth of info on D (and lots more).
 
pollinator
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Can you wear them inside out?
 
Shannon Lawrence
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The second hand t-shirts i mean. I got post happy before realizing this would drop to the end of the thread.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I believe the statistics say that at least 85% of the American population is chronically low in Vitamin D.  That would include most people with darker skin and just about everyone who lives in the northern part of the continent -- by northern half, I mean where winter is cold enough that most people spend most of their time indoors.  My youngest daughter has been tested for D levels several times because she has vitiligo (an auto-immune disease that removes all pigment from patches of skin) and she has lupus (sun exposure can cause lupus flares).  So she can't spend more than five minutes out in the sun, even with protective clothing and sun block.  Even after heavy supplementation with prescription D, her levels only barely got up into the acceptable levels.  Now I supplement both of us; we both feel distinctly better and have less trouble with our auto-immune diseases when we are taking the D.  We also have far fewer bouts of the flu, or colds, and when we do get sick, it's much less severe than before we started supplementing.  When we started supplementing, I was still spending quite a bit of time outdoors in the sun, and still noticed those benefits, which makes me pretty sure that my D levels were also low even though I haven't been tested.  

I do think everyone ought to spend some time outdoors getting fresh air and sunshine, preferably every day if they can manage it.  But I also think that most people would benefit from a good dose of supplemental D every day.  We might knock back some of the auto-immune diseases a bit, and I think we'd definitely see a reduction in cases of the flu.  
 
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I use long sleeve big old men’s cotton shirts with nothing on underneath- I don’t wear sun screen, so I wear thicker weaves for high UV days with hat , sleeves roll up or down as needed- never tucked in! air circulates great ! (The  bédouin people got the concept- the hotter the outside loose material is the more it acts like a solar chimney- the cooler I am- I get some sun but no burns!) the less uv the more transparent ( lighter weave) i can wear until I need a cotton t- shirt underneath- it saves my T-shirts from being destroyed and that’s not a big issue for me as I’ve worked live shows for 40 years and have hundreds, but I always wear a big loose shirt ( with tails if I can find it!
 
pollinator
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"Expose Your Skin Around Midday

Midday, especially during summer, is the best time to get sunlight.

At noon, the sun is at its highest point, and its UVB rays are most intense. That means you need less time in the sun to make sufficient vitamin D (5Trusted Source).

Many studies also show that the body is most efficient at making vitamin D at noon (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

For example, in the UK, 13 minutes of midday sunlight exposure during summer three times per week is enough to maintain healthy levels among Caucasian adults (5Trusted Source).

Another study found that 30 minutes of midday summer sun exposure in Oslo, Norway was equivalent to consuming 10,000–20,000 IU of vitamin D (8Trusted Source).

The commonly recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mcg) (3Trusted Source).

Not only is getting vitamin D around midday more efficient, but it might also be safer than getting sun later in the day. One study found that afternoon sun exposure may increase the risk of dangerous skin cancers (9Trusted Source)."   https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun#time-of-day

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is not one chemical but many. The natural type is produced in the skin from a universally present form of cholesterol, 7-dehydrocholesterol. Sunlight is the key: Its ultraviolet B (UVB) energy converts the precursor to vitamin D3. In contrast, most dietary supplements are manufactured by exposing a plant sterol to ultraviolet energy, thus producing vitamin D2. Because their function is almost identical, D2 and D3 are lumped together under the name vitamin D — but neither will function until the body works its magic (see figure).


The sun's energy turns a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it to active vitamin D.

The first stop is in the liver, where vitamin D picks up extra oxygen and hydrogen molecules to become 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D. This is the chemical that doctors usually measure to diagnose vitamin D deficiencies. But although 25(OH)D is used for diagnosis, it can't function until it travels to the kidney. There it acquires a final pair of oxygen and hydrogen molecules to become 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D; scientists know this active form of the vitamin as 1,25(OH)2D, or calcitriol, but for ordinary folks the name vitamin D is accurate enough.

Although standards vary, most experts agree that levels of 25(OH)D below 20 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) reflect clear-cut vitamin D inadequacy, while levels between 20 and 30 ng/ml are borderline.

A number of factors can play a role. Limited exposure to sunlight heads the list. Except during the short summer months, people who live at latitudes above 37 degrees north or below 37 degrees south of the equator don't get enough UVB energy from the sun to make all the vitamin D they need. The same is true for people who spend most of their time indoors and for those of us who avoid sunshine and use sunscreens to protect our skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (see box below). It's an example of an unforeseen consequence of wise behavior, but you can enjoy sun protection and strong bones, too, by taking vitamin supplements.

These many factors explain why vitamin D deficiencies are shockingly common in the United States. Although standards vary, most experts agree that levels of 25(OH)D below 20 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) reflect clear-cut vitamin D inadequacy, while levels between 20 and 30 ng/ml are borderline. Using similar criteria, American researchers have reported deficiencies in 42% of African American women aged 15 to 49, in 41% of non-hospitalized patients aged 49 to 83, and in up to 57% of hospitalized patients. And low levels of vitamin D are common even in apparently healthy young adults; in one study, more than a third of people between the ages of 18 and 29 were deficient.

Numbers can never tell the whole story, but in this case, "D-ficiencies" add up to a wide range of health concerns.

"D" right amount

Until 1997, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D was 200 IU for all adults. Faced with growing evidence of vitamin D deficiencies in Americans, the RDA for 51- to 70-year-olds was increased to 400 IU, and to 600 IU for people older than 70.

Is more better? New research suggests that it is, and many authorities are recommending 800 or even 1,000 IU a day. Remember, though, that you can get too much of a good thing. Like the other fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin D is stored in the body's adipose (fat) tissue. That means your body can mobilize its own reserves if your daily intake falters temporarily — but it also means that excessive doses of vitamin D can build up to toxic levels. At those extremes, vitamin D can raise blood calcium to levels that can cause grogginess, constipation, and even death. But it takes massive overdosing to produce toxicity, and doses up to 2,000 IU a day are considered safe.
Delivering D

You can make your vitamin D the old-fashioned way, by exposing your skin to UVB radiation in sunlight. It doesn't take much, but people living north of the 37-degree-latitude line — roughly the imaginary line between Philadelphia and San Francisco — can't get enough UVB in winter to do the trick. And many others will find it all too easy to overdose on UVB, increasing their risk of malignant melanomas and other skin cancers, as well as wrinkles and premature skin aging. All in all, most doctors recommend avoiding sunlight (see box) and getting vitamin D by mouth.

Diet can help, but it's very hard to approach the new goals with food alone. Fish and shellfish provide natural vitamin D (oily fish are best), but you'll have to eat about 5 ounces of salmon, 7 ounces of halibut, 30 ounces of cod, or nearly two 8-ounce cans of tuna to get just 400 IU. An egg yolk will provide about 20 IU, but since it also contains nearly a day's quota of cholesterol, you can't very well use eggs to fill your tank with D. Other foods have even less D, which is why manufacturers fortify milk, some yogurt, some orange juice, and many cereals with vitamin D. In general, a serving will provide about 100 IU; that means drinking a quart of fortified milk to get 400 IU.

Most people require supplements to get the vitamin D they need. It's the main benefit of a daily multivitamin; most provide 400 IU. Remember to read the labels carefully so you won't get too little or too much. And although cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D, it has too much vitamin A for regular use.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vitamin-d-and-your-health-breaking-old-rules-raising-new-hopes

From the UK:  
How long should we spend in the sun?

Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.

It's not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body's requirements.

This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed.

But you should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.  

How long it takes for your skin to go red or burn varies from person to person. Cancer Research UK has tips to help you protect your skin in the sun.

Your body can't make vitamin D if you're sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can't get through the glass.

The longer you stay in the sun, especially for prolonged periods without sun protection, the greater your risk of skin cancer.

If you plan to be out in the sun for long, cover up with suitable clothing, wrap-around sunglasses, seeking shade and applying at least SPF15 sunscreen.
Winter sunlight

In the UK, sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.  
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/

Vitamin D comes from the synthesis of UVB radiation, which is less than 5% of the sunshine. Depending on the time of day and time of year, there may not be enough UVB to produce vitamin D. The UVB strength is dependent on your latitude, and thus all cities in the same latitude have similar UVB exposure (barring pollution or fog).

The map and calendar below can help determine which months you can get vitamin D from the sun where you live.

   Find your location; which latitude lines are you within?
   Read across from January to December to see what months you are able to produce vitamin D.  Red dots mean good UVB availability, Orange is moderate availability, Yellow is low, and Clear is non-existent.

Also, remember that you need to be out in prime hours, 10 am – 2 pm, or when your shadow is shorter than you.
https://www.grassrootshealth.net/document/sunshine-calendar/

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Cara Campbell
Posts: 40
Location: South Florida
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Prescription D is, I believe,  D2 which is not assimilable. She needs D3.
 
Posts: 72
Location: Allentown, PA but we bought off-grid property in Newark Valley, NY
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I also do the thrift store oversized mens' dress shirt.  My favorite summer work pants are fishing pants I got on an LL Bean clearance rack that are lightweight, cool and durable.  It all gets topped off with a hat.  The long sleeve dress shirts are a lifesaver for me.  I'm a red-head so tanning is not a possibility for me.  I go directly from pasty white to lobster red, never passing through anything that resembles tan.

I take Vit. D supplements daily.  Back in the 80's when I was an undergraduate majoring in bio/chem, I remember learning that Vit D is fat soluble and absorbed into the body through the natural oils on the skin.  Almost all modern societies bathe, wash, or shower away far too much of these natural oils to ever get sufficient Vit. D from the sun.
 
David Wieland
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Location: Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario
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I remember learning that Vit D is fat soluble and absorbed into the body through the natural oils on the skin.  Almost all modern societies bathe, wash, or shower away far too much of these natural oils to ever get sufficient Vit. D from the sun.


Hmm. What we get from the sun is UV rays. Our skin creates the vitamin D precursor. Even if you don't tan, UVB is healthful, as long as you avoid burning, and the midday UVB gives the clearest warning of burning -- or so I've read.

Maybe topical vitamin D ointment is absorbed via skin oil, but that's a different thing.
 
Dianne Justeen
Posts: 72
Location: Allentown, PA but we bought off-grid property in Newark Valley, NY
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David Wieland wrote:

Maybe topical vitamin D ointment is absorbed via skin oil, but that's a different thing.



Maybe it was the precursor that was washed away by our obsessive bathing habits?  It's been 40-ish years so memory might be hazy
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Zone 6b
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I know that when I was young (elementary school, I think -- would have been the 1960's) a school nurse told my class that when we showered or took a bath we washed the Vitamin D precursors off of our skin, so we shouldn't bathe every single day.  It's possible that daily showering has contributed to part of the modern health problems, along with most people spending very little time outdoors in the sunshine.  
 
Posts: 75
Location: Boondock, KY
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Having an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder, I will say that anecdotal evidence from long experience strongly suggests if not strictly Vitamin D, I am getting significant benefit from direct exposure to sunlight.  So much so that I’d get lots worse by every metric in winter.  To the point it became a serious priority to dodge a lot of winter in a sunnier latitude -it is no exaggeration that doing so saved my health and function when flaring badly.  I do supplement with D3 if I am not getting sufficient exposure, but it is no substitute for the sun.  

My policy is to carefully avoid burning.  You develop a knack for it after a while.  Will cover up or sunscreen when I’ve had enough.  Usually cover up.  Have collected a bunch of thrift store brimmed hats.

In addition to the supplementation of D3, I make several ferments including natto that delivers a lot of K2 that has some synergy.  
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