5 ways to boost your vitamin D intake when you can't tolerate the sun

Eva Hall knows she's in the minority when it comes to disliking the sun, but there are other ways to get your daily dose of vitamin D and look after your immune system, she has found. 


I've never quite met another person with such a low tolerance of the sun than myself.

When I try to explain the fatigue I feel, the sheer grossness of having to slather factor 50 over every inch of my body, the subsequent spots I get from said factor and the all-round stickiness I feel in the sun, the usual response is "but you need vitamin D".

It is true that as humans, we need a certain amount of vitamin D for our bodies to function healthily.

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Vitamin D is produced in the skin from UVB sunlight exposure.

According to Dr Rosemary Coleman, consultant dermatologist at the Centre for Restorative Dermatology at Blackrock Clinic, vitamin D is an essential part of our immune system. "It's essential for bone health, most enzyme pathways in the body, there is a lot of evidence to suggest it reduces your risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune disorders."

Those who live closer to the equator will naturally absorb more vitamin D through the sun. For those of us in Ireland, we rely heavily on other sources of vitamin D, such as supplements or food. Dr Coleman says Irish people tend to have a vitamin D deficiency.

So even if you dislike the sun, here are five ways to ensure you are getting an optimum amount of vitamin D -- whatever your age -- and are looking after your overall health.

Check your vitamin D levels

It's important to check your vitamin levels once a year, says Dr Coleman. "I take 5,000 units a day to get vitamin K2, it's important to take vitamin K2 with your vitamin D3, because it means it absorbs into the tissues," says Dr Coleman. "The dose you need might be very different to the dose that I need because genetically we all have different levels." A simple blood test will determine your vitamin D levels.

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Sun lounge instead of sunbathe

"Sunbathing is not safe," says Dr Coleman. "But you can very much sun lounge safely, with protective layers of clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sitting in the shade." Dr Coleman says you can lounge in the sun without trying to change the colour of your skin.

Take vitamin D in winter

Vitamin D needs to be taken all year long, not just in the winter months when there is even less sun, advises Dr Coleman.

You can still produce vitamin D when wearing factor

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Going factor-free is not worth the risk, says Dr Coleman. "You're getting premature ageing and the risk of skin cancer. No sunburn is ever safe. You are doing damage once your skin changes colour.

"If you put on two grams of factor 50, per centimetre squared, you will get factor 50. That means that you will be protected to a level of factor 50 for approximately two hours. Studies show that most people don't use nearly enough sun block. When they put on factor 50 they only achieve a level of factor 19. If they put on factor 30 they usually only get about factor 16. At least if you put on 50, you're getting at least factor 25, depending on the quantity."

A common myth, says Dr Coleman, is that sun factor prevents you from making vitamin D. "That's rubbish," she says. "Nobody puts on enough sun block to block vitamin D production totally."

An Australian study, published in the JAMA Dermatology journal, shows that there was no difference in vitamin D production when 113 subjects were tested with and without sun factor.

Obtain your vitamin D from food

One surefire way to make sure your body is getting vital vitamin D, is by eating it. Yoplus range of yoghurts, from Yoplait, says one single pot contains 100% of your daily vitamin D requirement (the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) recommends infants 0-6 months should take 8.5 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This should decrease to 7 micrograms in children aged 7-12 months and 0-10 micrograms per day for adults aged 8-64).

Yoplus are also packed with calcium, so you're getting a double dose to keep your bones healthy. They come in delicious strawberry and vanilla flavours -- ideal for fussy children who won't take a supplement daily*.

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As for me, I'll be packing some pots in my picnic as I try to convince my friends to sun lounge rather than sunbathe...


Yoplus are available to buy in all good grocery stores now. For more details, see yoplait.ie

Yoplait has launched a 'You Time' campaign to inspire people to take time out of their day to do something which makes them happy, be it baking, crafting or trying new recipes. If you're experimenting with a Yoplait ingredient, be sure to tag them on Instagram. 

*This product is formulated specifically for adults and children over the age of 10.

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