Most of us live, work and play indoors. Why does this matter for our bone health?

When your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B rays in sunlight, it produces vitamin D, one of the most vital nutrients for bone health. Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption, among other things.

Despite the seemingly abundant availability of vitamin D — it’s as accessible as sunlight — many women have insufficient levels of the nutrient. With busy lives and inclination towards indoor activities, most women simply don’t get outside to soak up enough sun. When we are outdoors, we often use sunblock to protect against the sun’s harmful effects, and unfortunately this also blocks its ability to stimulate vitamin D production. Women living in North America and northern parts of Europe and Asia are particularly prone to vitamin D deficiency because between the months of October and April, too little UVB penetrates the atmosphere in the northern latitudes to synthesize vitamin D. (Not to mention the fact that cold weather makes us limit our skin exposure to the sun!)

The good news is that vitamin D deficiency is easy to fix. And remarkably, solving vitamin D deficiency can cut your risk of fracture in half!

How to get the vitamin D you need

As little as 20 minutes of sunlight per day on your face and arms (without sunscreen) is enough for women with light skin to maximize their vitamin D. If you have dark skin you may need as much as 90 minutes or more. Taking a brisk walk outdoors is a great way to combine vitamin D production with the bone-building effects of exercise.

If you can’t get outside, if you live in a northern latitude, or if the weather doesn’t allow for sun exposure, you can easily get your vitamin D other ways. Foods high in D include mackerel, sardines, egg yolks, and fortified milk. You can also get vitamin D through nutritional supplements. Our Better Bones Program includes a safe amount of supplemental vitamin D3 that is enough for most women to experience the benefits of D on bone health.

Return to risk factors