How Shelter in Place Affects Our Skin

As I was getting ready for the day I wondered how the order to “shelter in place” affects our skin.

Typically, at this point in the year, we’d be looking forward to Spring and getting outdoors for some much-needed sunshine. Unfortunately, at this moment, the majority of people around the globe are dealing with the novel COVID-19 virus. 

walking in the sunSo how does sheltering in place affect our skin? For starters, we need sunshine, not only for peace of mind but to gain essential Vitamin D. I wrote a post on Vitamin D awhile back which you can read here. When I use the word “essential” in this case, it means that our body cannot create Vitamin D on its own. So it’s literally essential that you get it from another source. You can do this by walking around outside, drinking milk products that are fortified with Vitamin D and taking vitamin supplements.

For most people, 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight, at least twice per week, is sufficient for maintaining adequate Vitamin D levels. Keep in mind that this rule applies to fair-skinned people with their legs, arms, and face exposed and free of sunscreen. You may need to spend more time in the sun if you have a darker complexion or if you live in a cloudy area. 

Most people get blood tests annually as part of their regular wellness exams.  So that would be the perfect time to ask your doctor to request a Vitamin D level test (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D) to keep an eye on it.

Essential vitaminsIn light of recent events, most of us are finding ourselves spending more time indoors and out of the sun. There are very few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D. To make up for this, taking vitamin supplements may be necessary. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU or 15 mcg. Taking supplements that are equal or greater to this amount will keep you healthy and looking your best. If you choose to take supplements, it is important to know that the tolerable upper limit for vitamin D is 4000 IU or 100 mcg. This means that taking more than this amount on a regular basis can lead to negative health effects. 


Food* Micrograms

(mcg) per


IUs* per




Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon 34.0 1,360 170
Trout (rainbow), farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 16.2 645 81
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces 14.2 570 71
Mushrooms, white, raw, sliced, exposed to UV light, 1/2 cup 9.2 366 46
Milk, 2% milkfat, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup 2.9 120 15
Sardines (Atlantic), canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines 1.2 46 6
Soy, almond, and oat milk, vitamin D fortified, various brands, 1 cup 2.5−3.6 100−144 13−18
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 1 serving 2.0 80 10
Egg, 1 large, scrambled (vitamin D is in the yolk) 1.1 44 6

Vitamin D offers a multitude of benefits ranging from bone strength to cancer protection. Furthermore, a new study shows that Vitamin D levels are linked to the production of natural sunscreen. 

As mentioned before, our body produces Vitamin D from sun exposure. There is a D2 which comes from mushrooms, however, the human body prefers D3. Taking vitamin supplements provide us with D3. Nature’s Bounty D3 is the one that I take and I like it because it’s a small soft gel. 

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Stay safe and well!

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*Food diagram provided by NIH

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