• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Vitamin D from Sunlight Vs Diet Vs Supplements: Let’s Declare a Winner

Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is a fat-soluble vitamin vital for optimal health. The essential function of vitamin D relates to its role in the absorption of two important minerals, i.e., calcium and phosphorus. It also helps in the proper functioning of your immune system.

Vitamin D is produced when the sun’s ultraviolet rays touch your skin. Thus, sun exposure can help in vitamin D synthesis. Apart from that, it can also be found in certain foods and as a supplement. However, there are very few naturally occurring food sources that contain this vital vitamin.

Without a sufficient intake of vitamin D, your bones can turn thin and brittle. Its deficiency in children and adults leads to debilitating health disorders like rickets and osteomalacia. Vitamin d deficiency hair loss is also exceedingly common in many people.

There is a lot of confusion regarding vitamin D efficiency as produced from sunlight vs. diet and supplementation. Let’s compare all three sources and find out which of them is the best option for everyone.

Comparison of Vitamin D from Sunlight Vs. Diet Vs. Supplements

Vitamin D can be acquired through three primary sources, namely, sunlight, food, and supplements.

  1. Vitamin D from Sunlight

Sunrise in the sky

Caption: Sunrise in the sky, Credit: Pixabay


Your skin can make its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. When the intense UVB rays of the sun enter the skin, they trigger vitamin D3 synthesis. Vitamin D from sunlight is optimally synthesized during spring, summer, and fall months. The best time for vitamin d from sunlight in india is between 10 AM – 3 PM.

However, relying on sunlight is not the best way to fulfill your body’s vitamin D requirements. The UVB rays of the sun are very harsh and damaging to the skin at this time. They have been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer for those exposed to it during the daytime.

Apart from it, the presence of overcast skies, pollution in the air, and sunscreen applications decrease the effectiveness of UVB rays by 50%. Hence vitamin D at these times cannot be effectively synthesized by your body.

  1. Vitamin D from Diet

Vitamin D rich foods

Caption: Vitamin D rich foods, Credit: Pixabay


Vitamin D occurs in very few foods. Fishes like salmon and tuna, fish liver oils, and egg yolks are the significant sources of vitamin D. Hence, for vegetarians and vegans, finding naturally occurring vitamin D sources through diet becomes a problem.

Even for non-vegetarians, consuming sufficient amounts of vitamin D from diet alone poses many problems. Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D, but consuming them excessively to fulfill vitamin D requirements can drastically increase your cholesterol levels. It, in turn, can put you at a greater risk for developing heart diseases.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt need to be fortified with vitamin D. Unfortunately, this does not happen in most countries. Thats why most people cannot consume enough vitamin D from their diet alone, no matter how hard they try.

  1. Vitamin D from Supplements

Vitamin D supplement

Caption: woman taking a supplement, Credit: Pixabay


Doctors often recommend that people who do not get enough vitamin D from their daily food intake add a vitamin D supplement in their diet. With the addition of supplements, they can get close to or recommended amounts of vitamin D.

The main benefit of taking vitamin D supplements is that they quickly provide 400 IU of this vitamin, which is the recommended amount. Besides, this amount is nearly impossible to achieve from diet and sunlight.

Hence, out of all the three sources, vitamin D supplements appear as the most suitable way to cover your daily recommended dosage of this vitamin.

Are You at Risk of Becoming Vitamin D Deficient?

Woman feeling ill

Caption: Woman feeling ill, Credit: Pixabay


Vitamin D deficiency is most common in older people, those who have dark skin, those who are overweight, and vegetarians. Besides breastfeeding mothers are also prone to vitamin D deficiency.

You can easily find out if you’re not getting enough vitamin D by the following symptoms.

  1. Always feeling fatigued, tired, and depressed.

  2. You are getting sick too often.

  3. Suffering from joint and back pain.

  4. Suffering from hair loss and muscle pain.

You can also get a vitamin D test done to identify if you suffer from low levels of this vitamin. For those with severe vitamin D deficiency a vitamin D injection is administered, containing large vitamin D doses. Vitamin d test cost isn’t very high. It ranges from Rs.210 to Rs. 4,100 at most diagnostic centers.

Thus, although present in various forms around us, we see that vitamin D can still be hard to obtain. If you’re struggling to get adequate levels of this vitamin, consider taking a supplement of this vitamin alongside your diet. But it should be done under full medical supervision.

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