Q. I've read that people, especially older folks, should be out in the sun for at least 10 minutes per day to get vitamin D. What if the person has had skin cancer? I am conscientious about sunscreen, but someone told me using sunscreen negates the beneficial effects of sun exposure for vitamin D.
A. Everyone needs vitamin D, and most of us don’t get enough, especially in winter. This vitamin is crucial for a healthy immune system as well as strong bones. Older people who get adequate vitamin D are far less susceptible to falls.
Vitamin D is found in a few foods such as oily fish and fortified milk, but the primary source is sunshine. Sunscreen can keep skin from making vitamin D so a supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 International Units daily might be advisable for someone like you who has had skin cancer. This is quite a bit more than the 400 IU in multivitamins, but corresponds to the latest research.