This may seem like a silly question, but what does "getting sun" actually mean in the paleo sense? Sun rays directly on skin? With sunscreen? Being outside but completely covered in clothes/hat?
I really don't like being in the sun, but I do have to walk out in it a bit on most days. Just wondering if being outside yet covered up is beneficial in some way?
No sunscreen. As little clothing as possible. Sun directly overhead.
If you burn easily, the following two things increase the duration you can spend exposed to the sun without burning:
Peek sun season in the mid Atlantic states ( much of the US in fact) is from blossoms to leaves turning color- before and after that, the needed wave length for Vit D is too low.
I do not use sunscreen and this year - and a good 18+ months Paleo - I hardly even got a tan.
Our diet is our sun suncreen
Even my left arm on the car window is not nearly as dark as in previous years.
Got to love how we eat.
It means skin directly exposed to the sun. Sunscreen as little as SPF 5 has been shown to decrease Vitamin D synthesis by 90%. Here are two very good articles by Dr. Eades you can read to learn more about the myths of sun-exposure:
If you are in the water, then the UVB rays will not penetrate the water and the only part that will be 'getting sun' is your face or whatever part is sticking out of the water. Plus there is some concern by some researchers that body oils washed off by water may be part of the mechanism by which you synthesize and absorb vitamin D. So having body oils washed off might not be conducive to optimal vit D synthesis and absorption. Only getting sun while in the water may not be so good if that turns out to be true. However, much is still a mystery as per the entire process.
Also consider that the lighter skinned you are, the less sun you will probably need, which might be a more useful piece of information if we really knew how much any of us really need in the first place. And you do want to make sure you do not burn, only tan. If you burn and are still red the next day, then back off on the sun exposure a bit.
If you like that light skinned look, one option might be to get sun on arms and legs but cover the face, thereby letting the lighter parts of the body catch up to the usually more tanned face. I do think it's wise to try to get a bit of sun (directly touching skin with no sunscreen) even if you also do supplements. THere is much we don't know about the benefits of the sun and it may go beyond just vitamin D. Getting sun is the more natural process and IMO, is more likely to be the best mechanism. Taking supplements is much less natural, but of course, still better than being D deficient.
Why don't you like being exposed to the sun? The easiest way to get a goodly amount is to take your shirt off while exercising or working, preferably around noontime.
Here's a link from PaNu on sun exposure.
I used to not really enjoy being outdoors in the sun, as well, but it was mainly because I grew up in cold climates (northern Canada) and was never used to the heat. After moving to the Okanagan Valley in Canada (known as the California of Canada), I had to adjust my thinking because there was going to be no avoiding the sun down here.
I started doing walks outdoors in the early afternoon in April, and built up a tolerance to the heat enough that doing an hour walk in 35C (95F) feels quite normal.
I'm hoping next summer, I can be one of the "crazies" I see doing jogs up hills at noon.
I would say start off slowly and build up tolerance to it. Get outside in a t-shirt/tanktop for 10 minutes for several days, then 20 mins, 30, etc.
I agree with all of the advice given, but I just want to warm people about protecting the head and face, especially if you are not used to the sun.
Try to go topless and without as much clothing as possible, but if it is really hot at mid-day (like this time of year), consider wearing a cap with a visor, at least at first.
Also, be sure to carry plenty of water.
Everyone is entitled to their day in the sun!
Our bodies need Vitamin D. You can either get it from supplements or the Sun. Diet alone is not a good source. I don't think we should fear the Sun that humans evolved under with minimal clothing. That means we were under the UV a lot. It's good marketing to tell people they will get skin cancer from the Sun because people buy sunscreen. The truth is, there is more to skin cancer than just UV over-exposure.
Big Dairy thinks without 100% RDA of calcium our bones will be brittle and our teeth will decay. The truth is these illnesses are caused by Vitamin D deficiency mainly because Vitamin D helps regulate calcium (and prevent its excretion in the urine). Also a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in general due to a diet high in processed junk food.