Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Will a Shower After Sunbathing Wash Away Vitamin D?

Although some websites express concern that taking a shower after sunbathing will wash off all the vitamin D formed by the skin, this appears unlikely.

Every schoolchild learns that vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, but as we grow older, we don’t all remember why. We humans have the marvelous ability to create vitamin D in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight.

Of course, we need to be careful not to get sunburned and we also need to avoid getting so much sunshine that it increases our risk of developing skin cancers linked to sun exposure. Nonetheless, cautious sunbathing is an effective and inexpensive way of boosting body levels of this critical vitamin.

Does a Shower After Sunbathing Limit Vitamin Absorption?

It does lead to a thorny question, however: Will taking a shower after sunbathing wash away all the vitamin D your skin cells have just made?

Q. My vitamin D levels are not as high as I would like (under 30 ng/ml). I try to get at least 15 to 20 minutes of sun every other day and I do take a supplement occasionally.

I recently heard that if you shower after sunbathing you will wash the vitamin D off your skin before it can be absorbed. Is there any truth to this?

If so, how long do I need to wait before showering?

Vitamin D Expert Demurs

A. There is not much research on this topic. One of the leading vitamin D experts, Michael Holick, MD, PhD, suggests that vitamin D is made inside skin cells and therefore would not be washed off during a shower.

If you use sunscreen, that will keep your skin from making vitamin D. Try exposing your skin to the sun for 15 to 30 minutes before applying sunscreen.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to be more conscientious about taking vitamin D supplements on a daily basis. Most experts agree that if your blood test shows 30 ng/ml of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or less, your vitamin D level is suboptimal.

You can learn more about this crucial vitamin and why we need it in our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.

Rate this article
4.5- 293 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.