How does my skin make vitamin D?

Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is made in your body with the help of ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight. Many healthy people can synthesize all the vitamin D they need as long as they get adequate sun exposure. People who don’t get enough sun exposure must meet their Vitamin D needs through their diets.

Whether from food or sunlight, vitamin D enters your body in an inactive form. The ultraviolet rays of the sun convert a compound in your skin into previtamin D, which is then converted to an inactive form of vitamin D in your blood. The vitamin D in your foods is in this inactive form. It travels in your blood to your liver, where it is changed into a circulating form of vitamin D and released back into your blood. Once in your kidneys, it is converted to an active form of vitamin D.

Individuals should look to food sources to meet their vitamin D needs:
Dr. Doris Day, MD
Your skin synthesizes Vitamin D, an important nutrient for the health and strength of your bones because it allows calcium to be metabolized. Vitamin D is produced in the epidermis when your skin is exposed to the sun. However, you need very little time in the sun, 10 to 15 minutes a day, to create all the Vitamin D you need. The notion that avoiding the harmful effects of excess sun exposure will result in a Vitamin D deficiency is a myth, and a dangerous one at that.

Continue Learning about Vitamin D

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.