Frequently Asked Questions

13. Can I get all the vitamin D I need from sunshine?

Your body makes vitamin D in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight and some people get all the vitamin D they need this way. However, many older people, especially those who are indoors most of the time and/or live in northern areas, do not get enough vitamin D.

Skin exposed to sunshine indoors through a window will not produce vitamin D. Cloudy days, shade, and having dark-colored skin also cut down on the amount of vitamin D the skin makes. Also, during the winter months, many people do not get enough vitamin D. Many older people may need a dietary supplement to reach recommended levels of vitamin D.

It is a good idea to limit exposure of your skin to sunlight in order to lower the risk for skin cancer. When you're out in the sun for more than a few minutes, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 8 or more. Tanning beds also cause the skin to make vitamin D, but they pose similar risks for skin cancer.