by Jessica Sanders

While some foods provide small amounts of Vitamin D—milk, cod liver oil, and egg yolk, to name a few—the sun is the best method for getting your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin.

“Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight,” according to the

When exposed to sunlight, a large amount of Vitamin D3 is created. Vitamin D3 is the supplement form recommended by doctors. Vitamin D3 supports bone health and your immune system.

astaxanthin from salmon protects skinStill, despite these great reasons to enjoy sunscreen-free afternoons in the sun, you have to do it right. Too much sun can burn your skin, which can lead to skin cancer, melanoma and more. Here’s how to enjoy the sun and get your dose of Vitamin D in a safe and beneficial way.

1. First, Get a Good Night’s Sleep

You’re going to relax all day at the beach, so why do you need to be well-rested before you go? Mark Sisson, of Mark’s Daily Apple, explains. “This is essential for successful, safe sunbathing, since our ability to repair UV-derived damage depends on a well-functioning circadian rhythm.” Plan to get a full 8-hour dose the night before so your body is ready for the rays.

2. Start Slowly

If you burn quickly without sunscreen, don’t head out into the sunshine unprotected on the first nice day of the year. Instead, work your way up to it, allowing just a small amount of exposed sun time per day.

“…You should limit your exposure to the sun to allow your body’s melanocyte cells to rev up the ability to produce protective pigmentation that not only gives you a tan, but also serves to help protect you against overexposure to the sun,” according to

If you have naturally dark skin, or tan easily, then you can stay in the sun unexposed your first time for up to 30 minutes, according to Mercola.

But you know your body best, so make the appropriate call for yourself.

pastured eggs protect from sun damage3. Fill up on the Right Foods

The right foods can make all the difference for safe sunbathing without sunscreen. Some foods contain UV-fighting compounds that help your body better handle intense sunshine. Here’s how a day of sun-healthy eating might look:

Scrambled eggs with salmon and tomatoes:

Choose pastured eggs for a greater omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

The right balance of omegas is crucial because omega-6 is linked to poor UV protection. A diet high in omega-6 fats makes it harder for your skin to protect itself from sun damage. Too much omega-6 and you increase your chance of tumors from sun exposure.

Toss wild salmon in your salad for astaxanthin, a photoprotective compound. Astaxanthin can help guard your skin from the sun, reducing the signs of aging. The supplement form of Astaxanthin may be the closest thing to sunscreen in a pill due to its skin protective effects.


When mid-morning hunger strikes, fill up on watermelon. Watermelon is a great source of lycopene, another important compound for safe sun bathing. You will need to eat about three cups of watermelon for it to be effective as natural sun protection, according to Make homemade watermelon juice and reduce your chances of getting sun burned. Here is a quick recipe:

Blend 1 small sweet, organic watermelon flesh (a 6 pounder will do) and the juice of 1 small lime. Add natural sweetener if desired.

Big Salad:

For lunch, dive into a big salad. Of course, veggies are bathing-suit-friendly, but phytonutrients—found in most veggies—are UVprotecting powerhouses. Start with a base of mixed spring greens, and add bell peppers, pomegranate seeds and an olive oil based dressing. Olive oil is key in the dressing. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can protect against metastasis of melanoma cells.

Don’t forget the tomatoes, which can reduce UV-induced free radicals by 30%.

watermelon suncreen4. Sunbathe Unprotected for the Right Amount of Time (And at the Right Time)

Just because the sun is out doesn’t mean UVB rays—the only ones that provide Vitamin D—are able to penetrate your skin.

In fact, there is a specific time of the day when it’s worth sitting out in the sun unprotected. Catch some rays when the sun is about 50 degrees above the horizon, which is usually between noon and 2 p.m.

To maximize your Vitamin D absorption, make sure you are in the sun the right time of day. Use this table provided by the Navy to tell you when the sun is in its optimal position in your region.

Once you decipher the best time to be outside without sunscreen, it’s important that you keep track of how long you’re in the sun. Your body can only make so much Vitamin D in a day. In just half the amount of time it takes your skin to turn pink, your body will make that amount; usually 10,000 to 25,000 IUs.

5. Expose More Skin Than Less

Your mom always said less is more, and in most cases, she’s right. But in the case of getting the most bang for your Vitamin D buck, it’s best to expose more skin, or larger areas, rather than small ones.

For example, you’ll get more Vitamin D in the same amount of time if you tan your back, rather than your face and arms, according to

Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods, but the power of sunshine on your skin cannot be denied. Remember, it’s important that just a small amount of sunscreen-free time in the sun can make a big difference. If you get enough sleep, eat the right foods and plan your day, you can reap the physical and mental benefits. Sometimes, a day in the sun is all you need to feel refreshed.

How do you make sure you get enough vitamin D? Tell us in the comments below.

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