Use This 'Shadow Trick' To Get Maximum Vitamin D - Save Our Bones

Sunbathing is an important and vital step toward getting vitamin D. My regular readers surely know that it’s the best way to get vitamin D. But what if I told you that there’s one easy trick that can let you maximize the amount of vitamin D you’ll get when you sunbathe.

That can make all the difference, especially now that…

Winter’s Coming

The availability and strength of sunlight decreases during the winter months. This means you’ll have to be deliberate about getting sun exposure. During the summer, it’s almost automatic – you spend time outdoors wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts, for instance, and within a short period of time you’ve soaked up a lot of sunlight without even meaning to.

Even in the summer, though, you can still employ this handy trick to get the most vitamin D from the sunlight. But it’s absolutely essential during the winter months.

Why Vitamin D?

Vitamin D supplementation is a good idea, in addition to sun exposure. In other words, you need both. Bear in mind that during the winter, you should increase your supplemental vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sunlight.

You'll find an explanation on Vitamin D's intricacies and the recommended dosage for it and all the other “Foundation Supplements” in Chapter 10 of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.

Vitamin D is very important to your overall health, particularly your bone health. Here are just some of the health benefits of vitamin D:

  • Decreased risk of chronic disease
  • Decreased risk of contracting influenza, colds, and other contagious illnesses
  • Regulation of calcium and phosphorous in bone remodeling
  • Maintenance of blood calcium levels
  • Stimulation of intestinal calcium absorption

Some of these health benefits are because…

Vitamin D is Also a Hormone

Yes, this vitamin has a dual function. Because of this unique trait, vitamin D plays a vital role in an untold number of body functions. It has the ability to “turn off” or “turn on” certain genes in the body, thereby making it an indispensable component of a properly functioning body.

How Much?

Inevitably, the question of how much vitamin D we need each day comes up. And this will amaze you: a study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has shown that just one 20-minute exposure to summer sun in Hawaii wearing a bathing suit produced between 15,000 and 20,000 IU of vitamin D3.1

The best part is that you can’t “overdose” on vitamin D obtained from sunlight. Your skin will automatically shut the process off when you’ve made enough of this vitamin, even if you are still in the sunlight when you’ve reached your maximum.

If you are in doubt as to your vitamin D levels, a simple blood test can let you know exactly where you are. Then you can customize your sun exposure and oral supplements to create the optimal levels of vitamin D in your body.

The ‘Shadow' Trick

The trick to getting the most Vitamin D out of your daily sun exposure is to sunbathe when your shadow is shorter than your height. This means that in the winter, with the sunlight at a slant, your optimal sunbathing time is greatly narrowed down.

Typically, you’ll get the most vitamin D if you go out between 10am and 2pm. That’s about the only window of time when your shadow will be shorter than your height. And that’s when the UVB rays, which are what you need to make vitamin D, are at their strongest, and the time when most will tell you to hide from the sun!

But remember, the key to avoiding skin damage such as premature aging of the skin or the dreaded melanoma, is to keep sun exposure during these times for a short duration.

Summing It Up

  • Expose as much skin as possible to the sun, aiming for full-body sun exposure for 20 minutes (20 for light-skinned individuals and 30 for those who are darker-skinned). This might be impossible if it’s too cold outside, so that’s where my next suggestion is important.
  • You can use a sun lamp if you live in an area where it’s too cold or there just isn’t any sun during the winter (or too little to make use of it). Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and be certain that your sun lamp is made for the purpose of vitamin D supplementation.
  • Don’t wear any sunblock or sunscreen while you’re sunbathing for Vitamin D production.
  • If you’re fair-skinned or haven’t exposed your skin to the sun for a long period of time, pay special attention, especially at the beginning, to make sure you never allow your skin to get burned (a pink tone is OK, though).

The research is clear, so don’t let your doctor scare away from the sun, because…

Responsible Sunshine Exposure is Crucial to Bone Health

With this knowledge, you can embrace the sunlight without fear.

And here’s another piece of positive information: as you prepare to let your skin feel the warmth of sunlight this winter, remember that your mood will likely improve in the process. Lack of sunlight can send many people into a season-induced slump. Exposure to light is an easy and effective remedy for the winter blues.

So let the sunshine in, be happy and healthy!


1 Hollis BW et al. “Circulating vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxyvitamin D in humans: an important tool to define adequate nutritional vitamin D status.” J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):631-4. Epub 2007 Jan 10.

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. rebeeca

    can I get vitamin D if I cover skin with white, orange or sun colors thin clothes??I have heard somewhere about this or not?? plz reply me.

    • C Rajani Kumar

      Hi Rebeeca,

      I heard that sun light should fall on the skin directly. Cloths are not allowed.

  2. Tibor Varga

    Oh boy i was really good at math till now can’t figured it out that table navy stuff at all Asheville N.C.

  3. Mrunal

    Hi Vivian………this is mrunal from India………I liked ur article very much……even I am also having vitamin d deficiency….my level is doctor prescribed me about medications like supplements and injection……I am quiet worried abt that because my age is 34 and I am thin person…so will it give some side effect? I started sitting in a sunlight for 1-2 hrs in the morning time 8-10am…as it is India……so enough sunlight is there in this time ..but it makes my skin darker…..I am having fair skin……so if this sitting really helps me out then only I will try it …so pls let me know ur suggestion……..I don’t want to make my skin more darker…..pls

  4. Lal Muhammad

    Is the time 4 to 5 pm good or not?

    • Avdhut

      It is a confusion for me also.
      because our old wisdom sugest that one should sit in the sun when rays are mild. that is in the morning.I have read that even some of the health worker says the same thing in India.I am also interested in knowing the correct time to sit in the sun for vitamin d and also the period.

  5. splooge

    i got a vitamin d pills for 1000iu.
    can the body digest all that or will i piss it out?
    i am a dark skin man living at northern latitude

  6. Mina

    How do I do this when I have melasma? It gets dark and unsightly without spf. I also burn after 20 minutes of sun exposure and I’m darker-complected.

  7. Barbara Booker

    I have vitamin D deficiency and prescribed D3, 5000 iu/ day . I read about sunbathing which I wanted to try. Recently I was told it would not help me because I am African American. I have been unsuccessful in finding any articles that are useful. Is this true?

    • Andrew

      Yes, this is correct. You can make enough vitamin d with sun tanning, but only in the summertime and since you are African American I assume that your skin pigmentation is darker and thus you will need more exposure of the skin to make adequate vitamin d levels.

  8. Puneesh

    I suffered from vitamin d deficiency ….I live in Delhi ….now a days temperatures is 45 • Celsius ….which time is suitable to take sunlight & how much I take in a day

    • Tony

      Would like to know the perfect time to take sunbathing during very hot summer

    • Krish

      Please consult your doctor. and if you can get advice from Osteopath, that is best.
      Google can not be our Doctor howsoever it is easily accessible.

  9. Sue

    You recommend 20 min of midday sunlight a day. Would that be 10 or 20 min on each side if sunbathing?

  10. Pavitra

    Hello sir,

    I don’t like sunlight ,but right now I am suffering deficiency of Vit D3 so now have to intake of Vit D3. Realy it’s good artical & I will start taking Sunlight as per your guidence .


    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I hope when you start getting in the sunlight, you will find your deficiency a thing of the past!

  11. Leslie (Ms. L. Carmel)

    Hi! Vivian,



  12. Connie

    For a couple of years now, I have been taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement packet, recommended by another well-known bone health site. However, I am seriously considering switching to TrueOsteo for calcium and other bone-building ingredients, since getting them in organic form makes so much sense to me. What other vitamins/amounts do you recommend for daily, health-inducing supplementation, or is the TrueOsteo enough along with a good diet?

  13. Leslie (Ms. L.)

    Hi! Vivian,

    I Try Most Of The Time When I Get Out In The Sun To Do Like You Said To Get 20 Minutes Of Sunlight. I Usually Try To Get Sun Between 12 Noon And
    2 O’Clock During The Warm Months; And Between 2:00PM To 4:00Pm Durning The
    Cool And Colder Months!



  14. Nu Ly

    I get enough Vitamine D, both out door and supplements. Thank you.

  15. LindaPowell

    Are you planning to update the hard copy Save your Bones Program offerings within the next year? $67.00 wouldn’t be a bargain to me if I found out the information was soon to be updated. I would rather wait for your updated publication should that be in the works. Thanks for letting me know. Linda

  16. Cathy

    Tip for non-snowbirds: My husband taught me this – during winter go to sunniest spot in your home, lay down and soak up the sun for 20-30 min. 🙂 … enjoy!

    • Sara ghansar

      Make sure you open the window and you’re getting direct sunshine , not through the glass window , that will not help with vitamin D. Even when inside a car , open the window to get vitamin D

    • Sue

      Glass inhibits the B rays that produce Vit D and only allows the A rays, the rays that damage your skin!

  17. PW

    Fascinating — these are just the hours we are told to avoid to protect ourselves against sun damage.

  18. Louise Stewart

    Hi Vivian;

    I’m always interested in anything on Vitamin D.

    Thanks for the information. I take a supplement everyday.

    Have your program too. Good health to all your readers.


  19. Avis Mawson

    We are constantly warned here in B.C. not to sunbathe because of the
    dangerous rays and the harm they can do. I pay attention to what they say as I don’t wish to get skin cancer.

    Everytime I make a statement they tell me I have said it before so I am not going to participate in comments anymore.

  20. Avis Mawson

    We are constantly warned here in B.C. not to sunbathe because of the
    dangerous rays and the harm they can do. I pay attention to what they say as I don’t wish to get skin cancer.

  21. Loy

    We all Vit D is important for bone health but I live in the Tropics and the Sun can get scorching hot between 10 am to 4pm as we do not experience winter here. Should we still get in the Sun without sunblock or any protection. The UVA can be bad for the skin.

    • PW

      20 minutes in the 10 to 2 time of day will likely not cause sunburn or cancer.

  22. Stewart Mitchell

    Someone stole my shadow trick. I invented it a few months ago. Dr Mercola has the azimuth calculator method. I decided that using the shadow method is easier on the brain.

  23. Maureeen

    Dear Vivian,

    What is the name of your book on meditation? I would like to see it on the computer and possibly download it . I am thoroughly appreciating your Densercise program.

    Thank you.


  24. Suzon

    It is noon time in here in Alaska and it is 10 below zero my skin will freeze if I don’t cover even my face with scarf!

    I do go out for a jog once a day for 15 minutes covered up! My eyes get the light!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Suzon, you sound like a good candidate for a sun lamp! 🙂

      • Chcuk S

        What kind of lamp? How about full spectrum incandescent or florescent? What I’d like is a UV-B light bulb. Any recommendations? Like how much power – exposure time vs power. incandescent vs florescent.

        Thank you.

        • Chcuk S

          I’ve noticed that one source of UV bulbs is places that sell reptiles.

  25. shula

    Thank you, Vivian

  26. Laurie Cowell

    I am getting pretty fed up with all the “offers” you are increasingly including in your emails – always promoting “fixes” that cost money.

    • Susan

      You dont have to Buy them,I am sure Vivian does not expect everyone to Buy, just buy whats important to you. We would be all broker if we had to Buy everything Thats advertise .

      • Sandra S. Thompson

        Well said Susan!

        Laurie, it’s called ADVERTISING. If you’re interested, great, if not, ignore it. Right above it Vivian chose to share some amazing info with all of us.

        Comments like yours worry me that Vivian may think her efforts are going unappreciated.

  27. Sharon

    While a large percentage of my diet consists of raw fruits, vegetables and nuts, I feel best when I complement those delicious foods with small amounts of fish, chicken and lentils. (I buy sprouted lentils which cook in 5 minutes). Still, I enjoy reading raw food books and recipes — but do not particularly like e-books. This one is way too long to print, and I find it difficult to read books online.


    Vivian, i love the sun, but have had sun damage to my skin!! other than D3 how can and what can i do!! if i’m out in sunlight, even driving the car, i get there red spots on my hands face, later they turn to brown spots!!

    I am interested in your advice?? I feel stuck in the shade?? Pat

    • Cheryl

      I’ve had skin cancer twice – both times on my face. My dermatologist advised me to always wear sunscreen and to get my Vitamin D by mouth instead of from unprotected exposure to the sun.

  29. Mary - Lynchburg, Virginia

    Vivian….I have loved your book and has given me much information. But the statement from the info above: We all have the same physiology… is just plain bull. Let her stick to her vegan diet or whatever. I have never been a morning person….and both sons like me….but we have to be when working. I am 65 and retired now so I can take my time in the mornings and I sure do enjoy it. I love to stay up late and sleep in a little in the morning. There is nothing wrong with this.

    • LynnCS

      Hi Mary. I wish there weren’t so much discrimination against the non morning people. We aren’t lazy or non productive. Our body/brain just works best later in the day. My energy builds during the day instead of a sharp up energy in the morning and downhill from there. I am with you completely! My sleep is the same..better as the night goes on.

      Whoever wrote that is a nut. They need to do sleep/wake studies on people like us who are alive and vibrant, active people who are completely unable to survive the old, “early to bed, early to rise” bs. I AM a vegan, but it isn’t the point here. Eat healthy and exercise whatever is your style and keep to your own rhythms. I have a wonderful big green smoothie about 10:30, 11:00..don’t need coffee. No real lunch time needed. Early small dinner at 4 or 5 and an apple in the evening along with some heart healthy formulas during the afternoon/evening. I too am retired, but work hard and when I had to get up and go to work early, I was brain dead all day. That kind of life CAUSES adrenal and thyroid problems, not vise verse. It takes a lifetime to know ourselves and let it be ok. I love my evenings. They are the most beautiful, energetic times of the day. People who force their self righteous ideas on others and try to shame us or make us pay them to prove their ideas should be as happy as we are owning our own physiology and way of being. Thank you for having the courage to be so honest. You are my hero. It is going against the gurus and you did it. Got me going! LOL ! Much love. Enjoy life as it is given. Lynn

  30. Diane Martinson

    Hi Vivian,

    There’s a website,, where you can put in your information such as your city that will tell you what time of the day, which days and months the sun is at the right angle for vit D. Here in Ct. once we get passed the middle of Sept we have to wait until May to sunbathe for D again.
    I remember reading your cookbook was going to be out later this year, since it’s Dec. already I wonder if I missed any notices about it?


    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for the website, Diane! And the cookbook is in the works. 🙂

  31. Fenella Pearson

    Excuse me, Vivian, we do not all have the same physiology! You are promoting Yuri Elkaim’s raw vegan diet. This does not suit me. I went down this road around 20 years ago – I lost ALL my energy & a lot of muscle.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Actually, I recommend a balanced alkaline/acid diet in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program (80% alkalizing and 20% acidifying), and cooked foods and animal foods are not off-limits. 🙂 I am sorry you had a bad experience on a raw diet – I hope you are recovering and on the road to health!

  32. Derek O'Brien

    Viv, you may be interested to learn that out-door workers rarely get melanoma; it seems that people shielded from UVB are the one that get it; office workers sitting near windows where sunlight streams in THROUGH THE GLASS are main contenders, the glass removes the UVB from the sunlight.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Yes, Derek – it’s very interesting how that works.

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