Image Credit: Max Pixel. This image has been modified.

The Best Source of Vitamin D

If one is going to make an evolutionary argument for what a “natural” vitamin D level may be, how about getting vitamin D in the way nature intended—that is, from the sun instead of supplements? I run through the pros and cons in my video The Best Way to Get Vitamin D: Sun, Supplements, or Salons?. Though supplements may only cost about 10 dollars a year, sunlight is free. We never have to worry about getting too much vitamin D from sunlight, since our body has a way to regulate production in the skin, so if we get our D from the sun, we don’t have to trust poorly regulated supplement companies not to mislabel their products. Indeed, only about half the supplement brands that researchers tested came within 10 percent of their labeled amount.

Sunlight may also have benefits beyond vitamin D, such as how our body may use the sun’s near-infra-red rays that penetrate our skin to activate chlorophyll by-products in our bloodstream to make Co-Q10. (See my video How to Regenerate Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Naturally for more on this.) There’s another way our body appears to use the sun’s rays to maximize the effects of the greens we eat: Within 30 minutes of exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight, we can get a significant drop in blood pressure and improvement in artery function, thanks to a burst of nitric oxide-releasing compounds that flow into our bloodstream. We can even measure the nitric oxide gas coming straight off our skin. Of course, we have to eat greens or beets in the first place, but that combo of greens and sunlight may help explain some of the protection that plant-based eaters experience.

Morning sun exposure may help those with seasonal affective disorder, as well as improve the mood of wheelchair-bound nursing home residents. Previously, I’ve talked about the benefits of avoiding light at night—see my video Melatonin and Breast Cancer if you’d like to know more—but underexposure to daytime sunlight may also affect our melatonin levels, which don’t only regulate our circadian rhythms but may also be helpful in the prevention of cancer and other diseases. Older men and women getting two hours of outside light during the day appear to secrete 13 percent more melatonin at night, though we’re not sure what, if any, clinical significance this has.

The downsides of sun exposure include increased risk of cataracts, a leading cause of vision loss, though this risk can be minimized by wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Sunlight also ages our skin. In my The Best Way to Get Vitamin D: Sun, Supplements, or Salons? video, you can see a dramatic photo of a truck driver who spent decades getting more sun on the left side of his face—through his driver’s side window. “The effects of sunlight on the skin are profound, and are estimated to account for up to 90% of visible skin aging”—that is, wrinkles, thickening, and loss of elasticity. Things like sun exposure and smoking can make us look 11 years older. Cosmetic surgery can make us look up to eight years younger, but a healthy lifestyle may work even better. Doctors don’t preach about sun protection for youthful facial looks, though, but because of skin cancer. Medical authorities from the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, to the Surgeon General warn about excess sun exposure and for good reason, given the millions of skin cancers and thousands of deaths diagnosed every year in the United States alone.

The UV rays in sunlight are considered a complete carcinogen, meaning they can not only initiate cancer, but promote its progression and spread. Melanoma is the scariest, which “makes the rising incidence of melanoma in young women particularly alarming.” This increase has been blamed on the increased usage of tanning salons. Tanning beds and UV rays in general are considered class 1 carcinogens, like processed meat, accounting for as many as three quarters of melanoma cases among young people and six times the risk of melanoma for those who visited tanning salons ten or more times before the age of 30.

The tanning industry is big business, bringing in billions of dollars. There may be more tanning salons than there are Starbucks, and they use those dollars like the tobacco industry: to downplay the risks of their products. Laws are being passed to regulate tanning salons, from complete prohibitions, like in the country of Brazil, to age restrictions for minors. But, unlike tobacco, tanning isn’t addictive. Or is it?

Have you heard of “tanorexia”? Some people tan compulsively and report a so-called tanner’s high. Describing tanning behavior like a substance abuse disorder might seem a little silly—that is, until you stick people in a brain scanner and can show the same kind of reward pathways light up in the brain, thanks to endorphins that are released by our skin when we’re exposed to UV rays. In fact, we can even induce withdrawal-like symptoms by giving tanners opiate-blocking drugs. So, tanning is potentially addictive and dangerous. Harvard researchers suggest that we should “view recreational tanning and opioid drug abuse as engaging in the same biological pathway.” But there’s a reason sun exposure feels good. Sunlight is the primary natural source of vitamin D, and, evolutionarily, it’s more important, in terms of passing along our genes, not to die of rickets in childhood. Unlike natural sunlight, tanning bed lights emit mostly UVA, which is the worst of both worlds: cancer risk with no vitamin D production. The small amount of UVB many tanning beds do emit, however, may be enough to raise vitamin D levels. Is there a way to raise D levels without risking cancer? Yes: vitamin D supplements.

Indeed, we can get some of the benefits of sun exposure without the risks by taking vitamin D supplements. But, for the sake of argument, what if such supplements didn’t exist? Would the benefits of sun exposure outweigh the risks? That’s the subject of my video The Risks and Benefits of Sensible Sun Exposure.

For other videos in this vitamin D series, see:

I also explore Vitamin D as it relates to specific diseases:

Here’s the video about that amazing chlorophyll activation: How to Regenerate Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Naturally.

What do greens and beets have to do with artery function? Check out some of my latest videos on the wonders of nitrate-rich vegetables:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

118 responses to “The Best Source of Vitamin D

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  1. Any advice for white skin living on the equator? Is 5-10 minutes midday sun exposure safe, assuming little or no tan from that? Or would it increase melanoma risk?

    And would it be safer for 20 mins at 10am, or 30 mins at 8am, for example ?

    I’m also confused as to how much flesh to expose for the D calculation, as presumably that also plays a huge part, but is rarely mentioned. Walking around for 10 minutes at midday wearing a Tshirt and hat is very different to 20 minutes on a horizontal lounger wearing only shorts.

    1. Dr. Greger covers that in one of his videos.

      Elderly people already need more of it and if you look around there are very few elderly people sitting out in bikinis or walking around in shorts.

      Many of the very elderly wear long-sleeved sweaters in July and August. My cousin who has kidney problems if freezing cold even in Florida in 90-degree weather. He has layers of clothing on and is using electric blankets all year round.

    1. Yes. What about those of us that get plenty of sun (as demonstrated by our tanned arms etc but still have very low Vit D. There are many of us who simply cannot process the Vit D from the sun because of some other deficiency. What should we do to correct?

        1. I do supplement at 50,000IU/month but I am more interested in how to correct the malabsorption problem so I can get it from the sun.

          1. You should really consult your medical advisers on this.

            Various conditions, diseases and drugs can cause malabsorption of vitamin D from food and/or from sunlight. Until the cause is identified, it may be difficult to address the problem effectively

          2. Unfortunately it cannot be corrected. Perhaps one day a gene therapy will be developed for that, but we may not be around to see it : (((

  2. Love your videos, sadly I now live in central NY where it seems the sun never shines. I feel like I havent seen my good friend, the sun, since last Sept! So depressing, I guess its supplements for me! And mushrooms!

      1. Me too, Deb & Coral. I just moved to MA, and I thought it rained a lot if PA, but up here it’s even more.Haven’t seen much sun since I’ve been up here.

        1. I have a friend who lives up in Maine. Winters can get pretty harsh up in that area.

          How’s your mother, Nancy? Did she also move?

  3. This is where even us staunch followers of the wonderful, brilliant doctor and friend (meant with total sincerity ) need to use our God given gray matter to make the final decision as to whether we agree with everything the good doctor advocates. Skin cancer kills tens of thousands of people every year. But 15 minutes in the sun is great. Looking at this picture do we really think any of these and the millions of people going to beach will be there for less than one or two hours ? And then cataracts, as Dr. Greger just now reminded me as a leading cause of blindness (can’t imagine the horror of being blind). All this enormous risk to go to the beach and get our Vitamin D the “natural way”? love you doc but my brain flashes “caution-caution-caution”.

    1. Just to add, although this one time per above I disagreed with you,besides being vegetarian for 38 years and vegan for 6, so much of my daily regimen is from Dr. Greger’s book and videos. Having milled flaxseed after my vegetables to assimilate absorption of nutrients, using mustard with my cruciferous steamed frozen vegetables to make the sulfurafane (sp ?) now adding extra milled flaxseed to help with blood pressure( which I monitor each morning) and now being more aware of my heartrate to try to get to 60 per minute. Tons of info I now incorporate into my daily awareness and lifestyle. I tell people all the time to go to and watch your videos. So I’m with you 98% of the time. many thanks

    2. >>>And then cataracts, as Dr. Greger just now reminded me as a leading cause of blindness (can’t imagine the horror of being blind).

      Me either. But note that cataracts are routinely removed in every country with halfway decent healthcare. What is even more problematic is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is influenced by diet as well as genetics and likely lifetime exposure to UV and perhaps even high-energy blue light. That’s why it pays to wear UV-blocking glasses, both to help prevent cataracts and AMD.

      1. I just though probably better to lessen the chance of having to have cataract surgery in the first place—I’m sure you do too. I’m not familiar with what you mentioned as “high-energy blue light”. What is that and where are we exposed to it, computers ? Neon lights ? televisions ? just guessing….

        1. Right, high-energy visible blue light (between 400 and 450 nm) comes from sunlight and digital devices. Keeps many people awake by inhibiting melatonin production. I wear blue blocking glasses after 8 pm to lessen that effect. What negative effects it might have with respect to AMD is controversial.
 “Absorption of blue light, however, has been shown in rats and a susceptible strain of mice to cause a reversal of the process where cells become unbleached and responsive again to light before they are ready. At wavelengths of blue light below 430 nm this greatly increases the potential for oxidative damage.”

          On the other hand, blue light stimulates us and is sometimes used for mood therapy.

          Below 400 nm is definitely seems damaging.

      2. gengo-gakusha, my retina specialist said they’ve been finding out that two are linked. Many people who have cataracts removed end up with wet macular degeneration. The cataracts protect the retina from further damage.This is what happened with my mother. She had cataract surgery on her right eye about 2 years after she had it on left. She developed WMD in each eye about 2 years after the cataract surgery.

        1. “Many people who have cataracts removed end up with wet macular degeneration. The cataracts protect the retina from further damage.”
          – – – –

          Knock on wood, I don’t have any cataracts. So far. But if I ever do get any, it sounds like it’s better to just live with them. (?) Do eye exercises or something. Will look for a link about this, unless you have one, Nancy.

          1. YR, No, eye exercises cannot help with a cataract, which is a cloudy or opaque area of a lens. It is most likely irreversible despite some claims otherwise. They typically progress but the rate is highly variable and no doubt depends on factors not well understood e.g. UV exposure, nutritional quality of the diet, in particular lutein and zeaxanthin. I have had them for more than 10 years and am told they are progressing slowly (this is a subjective measurement by an eye doctor) but I have not noticed a change in my vision in the last 5 years, which I attribute to my WFPB diet. My doc tells me I can wait until they disturb the quality of my visual life sufficient to motivate me to have the procedure. I’ll certainly do that before I can no longer drive at night or read a book.

            1. I was sitting in a makeshift help desk room at work once with two others.
              One said she had cataracts and the other piped up, “Me, too.”
              Interestingly, I also had them. We speculated that it was because all of us had been in the computer industry–for years….

              Mine are also progressing slowly, knock on wood, as I’ve been retired for 6 years now.

            2. An eye doc once told me that nearly everybody over the age of 50 (I’m well beyond that page) have a cataract in at least one of their eyes. And, yes, it may take a long time for it to grow any larger.

              Just another thing to worry about, I guess. *sigh*

    3. So it sounds like you’re suggesting that people avoid all sun exposure. Sounds completely unnatural and unhealthy to me. While I agree that roasting on a beach all day is dangerous, I would think avoiding all sun exposure would also be very bad. How many other (possibly unknown) beneficial functions does sunlight provide besides vitamin D production?

      1. certainly never said that..I said ( per my post above) . ” Skin cancer kills tens of thousands of people every year. But 15 minutes in the sun is great. Looking at this picture do we really think any of these and the millions of people going to beach will be there for less than one or two hours ? ” that’s what I said. Normal, indirect amounts of sunlight are wonderful—without the sunlight life would be abysmal and drearily depressing. But not hours lying in direct sunlight frying .

    4. The thing is–what about the anti-cancer benefits from getting some sun following chlorophyll/greens consumption? Also, doesn’t Dr. Fuhrman say that if you eat foods high in carotene that that helps protect your skin from skin cancer? I think it’s important to get sunlight, although I also take Vitamin D.

      It’s exasperating to me that I’m not certain how to handle sunlight. I’ve had a few questionable skin items removed. My mother always said to me,”Get out in the sun! Get a tan!” until she got skin cancer. On my dad’s deathbed, he said, “Please make sure she wears a hat!”

    5. “Sunlight: More than Vitamin D

      For many years I have offered my opinion that sunlight provides benefits that are not gained just from taking vitamin D pills. Recent research is confirming that opinion, and many scientists now believe that low vitamin D blood levels are only a marker for not getting enough sunlight.

      People who get little sunlight are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, several types of cancers, infections, bone fractures, diabetes, obesity, depression, auto-immune diseases and other diseases that can cause premature death (J Intern Med, Oct 2016;280(4):375-87), yet the increased risks for these diseases are not reduced by taking vitamin D pills:”

  4. I forget the specifics, but I read somewhere sun exposure in the early morning and evening when the suns rays are coming in at a more oblique angle allows more DNA damaging UV-B rays to get thru the atmosphere. I normally walk one hour early morning before work…and never wore sunscreen. I have started wearing it in the summer though…and likely shoudl all year round, as I had alot of bad sunburns as a child and my father had a malignant melanoma. I like my VIt D/Vit K supplement and feel great and get no colds since taking 5,000 IU per day .

  5. Thinking again! An opinion! Not based on research so be gentle on me! It is not normal to go and sit in the sun for an extended planned period of time. Too concentrated. What about going in and out doors multiple times during the day, walking the parking lot going into the grocery store, or walking into the backyard to harvest some greens or tomato’s, or placing your arm outside the window while driving. You are exposed here and there to the sun on arms, legs, neck, face but not as a worshiper of the rays as is there on the beach. Doesn’t have to be the beach. A small stroll, sometimes in shorts or sleeveless. My D level is fine and in my mid 80’s. There is reflective sunlight too. Any thoughts?

    1. My thought is, I agree with you. :-) People angst over the craziest things.

      I never liked to plop myself on a towel by the beach and just fry away. What fun is that? Never tanned too well, anyway.

    2. Ruthie,
      Sounds like a sound approach to me. But I think wearing a hat to protect the face and ears, and especially wearing UV-blocking sunglasses (or regular glasses) is important; the latter to help prevent not only cataract formation but also likely age related macular degeneration (a far more insidious problem than cataracts, which can be removed in a few minutes with simple and highly reliable procedures).

      1. gengo,

        But if I wear a hat to protect my face and eyes, that undoes any potential Vitamin D benefits because my face is the only part of my body which is exposed to the sun.

        I looked at the aging of the truck driver’s sun-exposed side of his face and sun is not good for your skin.

        1. Deb, >>>because my face is the only part of my body which is exposed to the sun.
          Why is that? Are you bundled up all year long for some reason other than sun exposure? (I am also in NY but I think south of you.)

          Regarding truckers – you’re comparing people who get many decades of overexposure to people who are careful not to get burned or even perhaps tanned. You can expose e.g. just your feet or lower legs for brief periods. They do not generally get much sun. Just a thought (but I’ve seen this recommendation).

          1. She is bundled up because its cold and there is zero sun! I dont know where you are in NY but I am outside Syracuse area and zero sun for like 7 months now. And the days the sun does come out its like 30-40 degrees, too cold to expose any parts of the body! In the summer here its been over 100 deg and awfully humid and miserable, so in this case you still want to stay inside each day. I am from Cali where the weather wasnt like this and it was easy to get vitamin D from the sun, I can promise this is not the case here. There is like a total of maybe 1 month a year where you can actually be outside with skin exposed. Thats 2 weeks in Sept and 2 weeks in mid June!

              1. I’m up in Dutchess — I live not too far from the river. We usually get good weather, even during the winter.

                (My daughter and family live in Westchester County.)

                1. Are you saying it’s not very cold in the winter? I’m next to the Hudson and the freakin’ wind in the winter is something to avoid.

                  1. Where I am, in Utica, we get the wind from the great lakes and Canada! Its literally a blast of ice lol!
                    I can promise after this exchange between all of us, we will all remember to supplement our Vitamin D lol! At least for the next few days!

                  2. I agree with you about the wind. That’s why I never walk down to the river during the cold months.

                    I grew up in Wisconsin, so for me the winters aren’t too bad here. The temp in my town in WI once got to 52 below zero –. and that’s when they didn’t take into account the wind chill factor.

            1. I looked at the next 10 days weather and there is 1 day with a sun symbol and 1 day partly cloudy.

              1 day.

              But it is going to be getting warmer. Just no sun.

                1. Im so glad you can feel my pain! Yes my 10 day weather forecast is the same, it only has 1 partial day of sun, which is probably Tom Foolery anyway, they usually get my hopes up on a partial day of sun only to yank it! I havent worked out in 2 weeks and my sanity is starting to slip lol!
                  Thank God for youtube videos, my new fav hobby, and I got my copy of the “How not to die cookbook” one good thing about a million shitty days weather in a row, cooking!!!
                  Do you live in Vermont? I used to live in Woodstock Vt once upon a time, now Utica NY! Why God Why, from Santa Barbara/Ventura Ca by the ocean my whole life, I never knew life could be so different. The good news is that I may wrinkle less though, do to zero sun! That truck driver in the video was a wake up call for real!

                  1. Laughing,

                    Yes, they always joke that if you don’t like the weather in New England wait a minute, but I am still wearing my winter coat and it is May and it is going to be another 2 weeks before we get to see the sunshine.

                    My friend just had snow where she lives last week or the week before. So did my brother so I shouldn’t be complaining.

                    I lived out in Santa Monica. About a mile from the beach.

                    Sounds nice right about now.

      2. I was one who believed cataract surgery is short and simple and safe. It isn’t. In Feb, I discovered on my own there are serious risks. In my case, the surgeon failed to screen me for preexisting conditions, tho I had all the symptoms for Corneal Dystrophy. Others with “dry eye” also can lose their vision, all due to the TRAUMA of breaking up the cataract using ultrasound (think jackhammer)which caused my cornea layers to separate. There is no cure, and prognosis is pain and blindness. You can try to sue the Dr for malpractice, but you still lose your vision. Learned my surgeon’s never lost a case, though sued many times. They’re untouchable. Bad outcomes are more common than you’d think, but you only find out afterwards.

        1. Lainey, >>>Bad outcomes are more common than you’d think, but you only find out afterwards.
          I am very sorry to hear of your horrible experience.

          I do happen to have mild dry eye, so your comment on that really gave me pause. (I had heard dry eye can be exacerbated from the incision cutting nerves in the sclera but never heard of the cornea splitting). I will have to ask my ophthalmologist about that!

          In any event, all the more reason to postpone what might eventually be a necessary procedure.
          Thanks for sharing your experience.

    3. Ruthie,

      Where do you live?

      It is May and where I live, I can’t remember the last time I saw sunlight.

      Plus, I have long sleeves on and still wear a jacket.

      Hoping to take the jacket off within the next few weeks, but I am inside and had to put one on because I am so chilly today even after 3 hot drinks.

      July and August, I can’t tolerate the heat and humidity and there were weeks last Summer where I felt suffocated by the heat and humidity even at 9 PM.

      I have already done the math. I wear long sleeves 9 months of the year and stay inside in air conditioning not able to tolerate the heat and humidity 2 months of the year. 1 month of the year, I do what you are talking about.

      1. Omg you must live close to me! Im in central NY and thats my exact plight. I moved here from Ca, so I am not used to this, wearing long sleeves even in the house. Then summer is so darn hot you still cant leave the house. Ive never taken vitamin D prior to moving here Lol!

            1. Yes, some of us have hippie days.

              I was laughing the other day because they have been talking about celebrating the 50th year after Woodstock, but can’t figure out how to do sanitation if they set up an homage.

              That made me laugh my head off and only a hippie generation would understand why.

              1. Lol, as someone who has been to SF many times I can agree with that. The problem is your never dressed for it. Here in NY you know not to leave the house without a ski jacket, in SF or even southern Ca where Im from, no one even owns a jacket lol!

                1. Coral,

                  I lived in various places around LA and I had a jacket. Winter in LA was hard to figure out how to dress.

                  When I was young, I remember that the show Three’s Company had one person in a sweater and one in shorts and that looked ridiculous to me, but living in California that suddenly made sense.

                  I remember camping in the desert and it was so brutally hot during the day and freezing cold at night. My friend used to fly a hang glider and we used to go to the mountains and I remember the same thing.

                  I seem to remember building a snowman at the beginning of June at Sequoia National Park one year with something like 10 feet walls of snow in some areas.

              2. YR,

                Yes, I have been in San Francisco in the Summer.

                Though, Alaska and Canada and Siberia and Greenland are laughing at that sentence.

                I remember them literally laughing when schools were closed for cold temperatures when they still were having recess at well below 0 temperatures.

          1. Coral,

            I love YouTube videos.

            I keep buying “How Not To Die” and keep giving copies to my sick friends. I do have a copy of it now.

            Are you new to Whole Food Plant Based?

            1. Almost 2 years vegan, but whole foods plant based is work in progress, still making a lot of changes to get that improved.

    4. personally I believe indirect sunlight like what you get tending to your garden is wonderful —the fact that you’re doing that in your 80’s shows that whatever you’re doing is working, great psychologically as well. I just don’t think that lying in the sun and roasting like a marshmellow is good for anyone. Doesn’t sound like you’re doing that so keep on doin’ what you’re doing and enjoy living. Sure sounds like you are :)

  6. Just read your blog post on Vit D and wanted to share a personal experience.
    A few years ago my wife had her Vit D3 levels checked and found they were low. Subsequently she began oral supplements.

    The following summer, living in the Pacific Northwest, I spent the summer outside in full sun exposure with shirt off and shorts on. I was outside doing construction June through September.
    In October I went in to do my annual physical exam with my MD. I told him about my wife and decided to have my levels checked. After all that exposure you would think my D levels would be great.
    Not so! Now I’m on oral supplements and
    Have level >30. Going to be monitoring this as I am taking 6000iu /day.

    1. Steve,

      I have heard of a lot of stories like that.

      It really does make things confusing.

      We couldn’t get my grandmother’s numbers up at all when she reached her mid-80’s, but you were working outside with so much skin exposed and that has to make things so much more confusing.

      I guess my thoughts are that people say that you can store it and hold onto it, but the study with the 7-year-olds from Iceland and your story both tell me that you can’t store it for a whole month, even if you are young and healthy and exposed to the sun more than the average population.

      1. Yes, serum vitamin D only has a half-life of 15 days (unless my memory is playing tricks on me).

        However, vitamin D is also stored in tissue (eg liver and fat) so both statements may actually be correct

    2. ‘Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects [1] (Table 4). Most reports suggest a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day and serum 25(OH)D levels of 500–600 nmol/L (200–240 ng/mL). While symptoms of toxicity are unlikely at daily intakes below 10,000 IU/day, the FNB pointed to emerging science from national survey data, observational studies, and clinical trials suggesting that even lower vitamin D intakes and serum 25(OH)D levels might have adverse health effects over time. The FNB concluded that serum 25(OH)D levels above approximately 125–150 nmol/L (50–60 ng/mL) should be avoided, as even lower serum levels (approximately 75–120 nmol/L or 30–48 ng/mL) are associated with increases in all-cause mortality, greater risk of cancer at some sites like the pancreas, greater risk of cardiovascular events, and more falls and fractures among the elderly. The FNB committee cited research which found that vitamin D intakes of 5,000 IU/day achieved serum 25(OH)D concentrations between 100–150 nmol/L (40–60 ng/mL), but no greater. Applying an uncertainty factor of 20% to this intake value gave a UL of 4,000 IU which the FNB applied to children aged 9 and older and adults, with corresponding lower amounts for younger children.’

  7. Zane Kime M.S. wrote the research based Book “Sunlight Could Save Your Life”. From research done by universities and governments around the world, the book extols the benefits of solar exposure of the skin. Blood pressure and sugar regulated, cholesterol lowered (sunlight production of vitamin D uses pre-cholesterol as it’s raw material). The author, a vegan, proposed that skin cancer was the consequence of junk fat, refined and devoid of antioxidants, present in the skin which the heat, light and oxygen present in the skin turned to trans fat, carcinogenic (remember to store your olive oil in a cool, dark, airtight environment for optimal longevity). Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines used to say that just exposing a four inch patch of skin on your arm was enough to make all your vitamin D, certainly with minimal cancer risk in a vegan. Kime was not in favor of supplementing vitamin D as it is a hormone rather than a vitamin, and artificial supplements, like taking steroids, would cause natural production ability to dwindle, perhaps permanently.

    1. Larry,

      That is interesting about the 4” patch of skin.

      I think the fact that so many people test so low even after a Summer of hours in the sun makes the issue more complicated.

      Just on these pages we have had people testing at 14.

      Supplementing improved mortality rates in studies.

      Supplementing has been tested.

      It didn’t prevent cancer except in dark skin people, but dark skinned people are more likely to have been deficient and it has never been tested in just deficient people.

      1. Even if the 4″ of skin being exposed could give sufficient Vitamin D Levels, there are seasons, like the Winter, when 88% of Danish women were insufficient and where more than one-third of the adolescent girls have vitamin D status below 25 nmol/l and almost all are below 50 nmol/l.

        Almost all of the adolescent girls were below 50 nmol/l in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Poland and THAT was almost 15 years ago and nowadays, kids don’t play outside at all in many parts of the country. They are not in “camp” they are in “computer camp” and they are not at all out in their yards. Parents can’t even let their kids be alone outside anymore because of safety issues. When I was a kid, we would leave home in the morning and come back by sundown and we were biking and walking and swimming all without parents anywhere to be found. We walked to school. Kids are not being raised the same and I know that wealthier parents can afford to buy farms or houses with land and can afford vacations, but if you look at the rest of society, young people need to work 3 jobs. That is common and if you have 3 jobs, you don’t have control over your schedule during the week or on the weekend. I speak to young people all day and they either are trying to raise money for college or for an apartment or because they finished college and can’t find a full-time job. It is such a different world and people with leisure time and vacation time and who live in places with a lot of sun do not understand that it isn’t a list of “excuses” it is logistical reality.

        In the Fall here, it is pitch black when people get up and I used to walk outside in the pitch black, until the snow starts. When I get out of work at 6:30-7:00 is also dark and that is my generation. The younger ones are racing between 3 jobs and get out of the grocery store at midnight.

        In the Spring it is raining so much that every year I say that I am colder in the Spring than I was all Winter even though I am still wearing my Winter coat and the same thing happened all day today. I was freezing cold and it was raining on both coming to work and coming home from work and it will be overcast or raining for almost all of the next 10 days and in the Vitamin D studies, with the supplements, the people became insufficient within 2 weeks of stopping taking them.

        Reading people online and looking at the Iceland study and the Europe studies and almost all of the young people are deficient in the Winter. Almost all. The store it part is a myth and I would say the 4″ of skin part would be a myth, too, because some of those kids go snow skiing and things and have the 4″ exposure for hours and these groups still were nearly all insufficient.

        1. Deb

          I am not sure that the storage statement is a myth since it most likely refers to tissue storage of vitamin D rather than to circulating serum levels

    2. Larry,

      I ended up looking up the comprehensive causes of skin cancer and they didn’t list any of what you said.

      Did he actually try to prove his theory?

      I say it out of curiosity.

      I understand that people who want to do it with the sun want to know how much sun exposure they can safely get without sunscreen.

      I have no problem with that.

      My problem is that over half of the population of America is obese now and we have more and more darker-skinned people than we have in the past and we have more people who work indoors and generations of people who spend most of their time on computers and most Americans watch television for hours every single day. Most are addicted to their cell phones. Young Americans work 3 jobs. Poor Americans have zero leisure time and zero vacations and many of them work in cities and have never seen a beach or trees for that matter. I am trying to say that the studies say that using Vitamin D supplements helps with things like not dying.

      I am not trying to dissuade people from getting it from sunlight if they are able, but doctors act as if everybody can get it from the sun or like it won’t matter if they are deficient and those are the arguments I disagree with.

      All of my elderly relatives are severely deficient and they can’t get enough of it from the sun.

      1. There is plenty of evidence that trans fats cause cancer. Because of reading Kime’s book, I knew this 20 years before trans fat labeling was required by the FDA, and I began avoiding processed fat. The superheating involved in processing liquid vegetable causes about 13% trans fat free radicals and if it sits on your shelf at room temperature or goes sunbathing with you in your skin, it is going to get rancid, oxidized/free radicalized further.

        Avocados don’t have trans fat because God gave it some vitamin E antioxidant. Unrefined natural oils as found in wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds etc have “sheriff” Vitamin E to prevent free radical trans fats with their cell destroying, wrinkle and cancer causing activity.

        So the worst case is going to the beach after eating french fries, and/or sunburning. A vegan on a healthy diet has much less to worry about from the sun than folks on the average American diet. I have worked out in the son all my life with face and arms exposed. At 62 i still look good I think and have zero health problems. I have been a “Blue zone” Seventh Day Adventist vegan for 38 years.

        1. Congratulations on being a Blue Zone oldie, but goodie!

          That is a bit of a celebrity around this place!

          I agree with you that I am less worried about cancer since I went vegan.

          I am still worried about getting enough D3.

          I don’t see getting it from the sun as a real option and feel like the people in leadership within WFPB tend to put out the theoretical concepts, which don’t seem to ring true in reality.

          I point to the young people in Iceland and Northern Europe.

          The concept that the children in Iceland and less likely to be obese and are more likely to play outside even in the Fall and are more likely to have more of their skin exposed and are more likely to drink fortified milks and cereals and they were still deficient.

          That means people doing store it almost at all. Myth judging that concept.

          Also Myth busting the 4” of skin. When I was a kid, I would sometimes run outside in bare feet in the snow and would build snowmen and go sledding and throw snowballs and in the fall there were other reasons to spend hours outside. Nope, if those groups truly are deficient by autumn, then that is all I need to know.

          1. Even the schedule of young people and the fact they get recess and come home in the afternoon while there is still sunlight…

            The young people should be nailing it everywhere if that is possible.

            1. My parents were running a business out of our house and we were running around outside and had a whole great big Summer vacation where we spent hours in a bathing suit and in a swimming pool.

              If kids are falling back in the Fall, then it is likely that the people who are sufficient are getting it through supplements or diet.

              1. Kids have recess even in the Winter and yet all of the Northern European children experienced a drop in levels.

                Places with extreme Winters, you are more likely to have young people skiing and ice skating and sledding and you are also more likely to have elderly people staying indoors for free of falling and having doctors telling older people not to shovel and telling them to cover their faces to protect their lungs.

          2. “I agree with you that I am less worried about cancer since I went vegan. ”
            – – – – –

            Deb, does that mean you never wear leather shoes and all the other things that “vegans” refuse to do?

  8. Way too much drama over such a simple discussion on how much sun exposure you should get. If it is too hot outside, go for a walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon for a 1/2 hour. The exercise will also do you good. If it is cold out, try walking at a quicker pace and when you warm up, take off the hat and gloves. Everything in moderation with a dose of common sense.

    1. Ha! Clearly you dont live or have never been to central NY! I would have written your post prior to moving here, for sure!
      This summer I was walking at 5am to get my exercise and STILL roasting and miserable.
      As of now the sun hasnt come out at all for like weeks, you just couldnt understand unless you were here to experience it! I now know why the rents are dirt cheep here! And yes so much drama, your right, its because we havent been outside in so long we are LOSING IT!

      1. “This summer I was walking at 5am to get my exercise and STILL roasting and miserable.”
        – – – – –

        You meant to write “last” summer, yes?

      2. I live in Northern NJ 15 minutes outside of NYC…I have gone hiking and ice climbing in upstate NY in the dead of winter. Its simply a matter of disciplining yourself to get out of the house and get moving regardless of the weather. You don’t need to be exposed to full-on sun to get some vitamin D. I have lived here my whole life (55 years) so its not like I live on the equator. Just get outside. If you work indoors and only go outside on the “perfect days”, then yes, you will have low vitamin D. You make it sound like you live in northern parts of Europe where it is dark 6 months out of the year. NY-NJ is not San Diego where you get enough vitamin D getting in and out of your car simply running errands. Here you have to get out for at least a half hour a day a few times a week to expose your face and hands. Not that difficult. You will get used to it over time. By your photo, I would think that a young attractive lady like yourself would have enough robust energy to want to get out and do something healthy even on cloudy days. ;)

      1. Gengo, that was the point of my post – people taking something so simple and turning it into drama which means, “taking things too seriously.” If you need natural vitamin D then get outside and find a way to create some fun doing it. People whining that its not 85 degrees with sunshine and blue skies. They sound like they were part of the Bataan Death march or living in a gulag in Siberia. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself outside during winter or cloudy days.

        1. I think the people who don’t work or have flexible schedules or who live in places with good weather have this “idealistic conceptual” view on the topic.

          Okay, let’s do the opposite of ideal concepts.

          Black young men from poverty backgrounds go to prison at a much higher rate and they end up in solitary confinement at a much, much higher rate

          “black inmates were nearly four times as likely to be sent to isolation as whites, and they were held there for an average of 125 days”

          Some have been in solitary confinement for up to 40 years, locked in a room the size of a parking space for 23 hours of the day.

          Should they be given Vitamin D3 supplements or not?

          1. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight.

            I had said, “half” but I knew it was wrong when I typed it.

            Let’s do the elderly.

            I looked at a study on elderly people to see if I could find a percentage and it was Sixty-eight percent of individuals had vitamin D levels less than 30 ng/ml.

            Modern reality: Parents of children 8 to 12 years old said that their children spend three times as many hours with computers and televisions each week as they do playing outside.

            I am saying that Whole Food Plant Based thin people who are fair skinned and live in places with sunlight are the ones who don’t understand that it is not realistic for hundreds of millions of people to not supplement.

          2. Im gonna go out on a limb and say no, black or white, or asian or whatever color, because the tax payers dollars pay for that and we shouldnt be paying for people who commit crimes bad enough to be in such a situation. Thats my first impulse!

            1. Interesting. I find these issues so complex. I could write a book about how complicated the situations really are and how they are related to poverty and lack of education and fatherlessness and lack of safety in communities and drug abuse and mental illness and people coming from child abuse and all sorts of things, but I am genuinely fascinated that you wouldn’t give them a Vitamin D supplement.

              I am not saying these sentences sarcastically. I really am fascinated.

              Do you tend to be black or white about issues?

              I am a Christian and tend to be more merciful in my perspectives. WWJD.

              My friend’s son tried to kill his father when he was out of his mind with schizophrenia and he would be an example. Give him Vitamin D and it helps his mental illness. Withhold it and he might try to kill his roommate or something.

              “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with more severe symptoms. Cross sectional analyses were carried out on mentally ill adolescents aged 12-18 who required either inpatient or partial hospitalization. Of the 104 patients evaluated, 72% had insufficient vitamin D levels. Vitamin D status was related to mental illness severity. Those with vitamin D deficiency were 3.5 times more likely to have hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions (Gracious et al., 2012). A second study supports this finding. Vitamin D was analyzed from 20 patients with first-episode schizophrenia. Greater severity of negative symptoms (blunted affect, emotional withdrawal, poor rapport, passive-apathetic social withdrawal, abstract thinking, and stereotyped thinking) was strongly correlated with lower vitamin D status. Lower vitamin D levels were also associated with more severe overall cognitive deficits (Graham et al., 2015).”

  9. My response to the people who think everybody can get it from the sun is that if it were easy to do, 70% of elderly people wouldn’t have such low numbers and young people from Northern climates wouldn’t nearly all test insufficient in the Winter and even in the Fall.

    It really is that parts of society are out of touch with the greater reality of the whole.

    1. I agree. My family members are Michigan residents for the most part. My husband tested “9” (NINE!) although he spends much more time outside than I do or ever did. My doctor said mine was low as well and we’re both on supplements now!

  10. This is another one of the topics, which VegSource believes he skewered Dr. Greger, and he did cause people like me to have to test the logic back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, but when I look online about what people are communicating, I listened intently to Dr. Popper, who said that the levels have been inflated and I listened to other people, but the numbers people are testing at are so low and people are having symptoms.

    I look at the symptoms like hallucinations and who knows if my brain breaking down wasn’t that I didn’t supplement for decades and also didn’t get sun.

    These people might have confused me and might have gotten me to not supplement, but they aren’t talking to the greater audience of people. They are talking to the elite.

  11. This is pretty much a binary choice. If you cant get sun exposure, take the supplement. If you are locked up in the Chateau d’If ask the dungeon master for some vitamin D supplements…

    1. Jack,

      Yes, if you can’t get sun exposure take a supplement is a sentence I would agree with.

      The drama comes because there is an anti-supplement movement saying that people can expose 4” of their skin for 10 minutes when we have children standing at bus stops and getting recess and Winter break and getting yelled at to ”Put their coat on” while they are outside building snowmen and the young people who probably get a minimum of an hour a day with their faces exposed are still testing deficient in the Winter and in the Fall.

      1. Plus they are using the logic that people store enough to make it through the Winter.

        The young people have the Summer off and spend it almost naked outside for hours most days and the were having their levels drop by the fall, even though school would have them outside running around tracks and playing soccer, plus recess plus waiting for the bus. Plus, all of the kids I know still eat cereal with milk with Vitamin D.

        The logic falls so short and the anti-supplementing it side doesn’t discuss it fully enough to understand the issue.

        So, what you think of as drama, I think of as making sure I have considered it deeply enough.

        People, even older people in this community are saying they get enough from incidental sunlight, even in the Winter and I am wondering if their yearly physical is in August or if they really have tested in January and are okay,

        1. The only logic which is left to figure out is whether the position of how much people need has been inflated is accurate or whether the position that people needed more than we used to think is right and even then, people are testing so low and are the tests so wildly off that people could test 14 and not be low?

          To me, there are a few people, including myself who have been symptomatic.

          I had B-12 and Vitamin D deficiency so severe that it either caused or contributed to hallucinations.

          I already know that B-12 going low does cause it, from when I switched to Methyl and got them back.

          I don’t really want to test D that way, but I could fairly easily. I just hate hallucinations enough to wait until next year.

  12. I think my final point of the weekend would be that most of the people on this site are not vegan.

    In the documentary, “Healing Cancer From The Inside Out” they spoke about skin cancer and lung cancer and mentioned how skin cancer is on the rise and that it correlates with people spending time indoors and it correlates with low Vitamin D and with an increase in eating of animal products increasing their IGF-1, perhaps?

    They spoke about the Okinawans and how they had low cancer rates even though they smoked, but those rates of cancer increased and most of us have been around for a while, but IGF-1 may be why or not having enough enzymes to digest animal products protein or Heme Oxygenase-1 being elevated and tricking the immune system into protecting the cancer or something else, like iron or TMAO / choline and carnitine and the bad bug guys or some meat virus.

    Okay, now back to the choice of whether the sun is safe.

    Sun is carcinogenic if you are eating the wrong diet and that is another way people are elitist in their advice. They are speaking to the thin vegans (versus John McDougall’s fat vegans) with white skin who eat Whole Food Plant Based and sleep at night and have good immune systems, etc.

    So, for those who just say that it is dramatic to tell people to not try to increase their rates through the sun, well, if it takes elderly people getting half naked and spending a very long time like hours in the sun, which was on the chart in the video of how long it would take via sun, you might be giving people the type of advice where the meat-eating, overweight, darker complexion, elderly person is going to be exposed to dangerous levels of sunlight without even having their Vitamin D levels get up to a protective level.

  13. Some of us are envisioning an outcome of sunstroke and major sunburn, but the person still being Vitamin D deficient.

    That theory is based on the real fact that I had an elderly relative get sunstroke and such a serious burn and later did get skin cancer.

      1. Medicines and health conditions cause doctors to tell people to stay out of the sun.

        And this person also didn’t drink enough water and walked around dehydrated all of the time.

        (Elderly people don’t want to have to pee very often and tend to do that from what I have seen.)

        1. That was the true story of a sweet elderly woman who tried to use the sun to increase her Vitamin D levels, but who had heart problems and dehydration and other things, which made her susceptible to having the whole plan go wrong.

  14. UVC now reaches the Earth’s surface.

    Search UVC and GeoengineeringWatch, you’ll find intelligent info and that they have measured with appropriate instruments, that UVC now is reaching Earth.

    Don’t be turned away from researching this by messages spread by ‘debunking sites’ which seem to be the mouth piece of the powers that be and who want the public to remain naive on all things trouble some. It seems everything ‘controversial’ is ‘debunked’ almost as fast as a concern is risen.

  15. ‘CONCLUSIONS: Genetic variants associated with 25-OH-vitamin D concentrations do not predict mortality. This suggests that low 25-OH-vitamin D concentrations are associated with, but unlikely to be causal for, higher mortality rates.’

    This also suggests that supplementing with vitamin D may be unnecessary/unhelpful because genetically ‘low’ vitamin D levels are not associated with greater mortality?

    It also seems to suggest that low vitamin D levels for non-genetic reasons may be merely symptoms of disease states not a causal factor. Note that obesity, gastrointestinal conditions and kidney and liver disorders can also,lower vitamin D levels. And possibly chronic inflammation too.

  16. Hello everybody,

    Does anyone have any experience, or recommendation on using daylight lamps, regarding a sufficient supply of vitamin D3, especially during winter season?

    Thanks for your help!

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