The dangers of overexposure to sunlight have been well publicized, but less attention has been given to an acknowledged benefit of exposure to UV radiation; that being the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D3. Here we define a standard vitamin D dose on the basis of recently recommended requirements for vitamin D that take account of its risk reduction role in a variety of diseases, and present a web-based tool that enables the reader to calculate associated exposure times for any time and place using either default values or user-selected conditions. Either it is not possible to synthesize vitamin D3 at high latitudes in winter, or the exposure time required to reach a standard dose is sometimes impractical. Where solar UV is sufficient, a risk-benefit analysis of sunburn vs. vitamin D3 synthesis shows that the best time for brief sun exposure is in the middle of the day. For low solar elevation angles common at high latitudes, a fine line exists between adequate UV exposure for vitamin D3 synthesis and a risk of sun burn.
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Vol. 82 • No. 6