With all the talk about vitamin D and sunlight, it’s no surprise that some Queenslanders are confused about whether they're getting enough to be healthy or not. So, are we getting enough? Should we be seeking more sun to boost our levels? How much sunlight is really enough to keep our bones healthy?
The fact is, despite widespread concerns, almost all Queenslanders maintain adequate vitamin D during winter months. Moreover, our health is at greater risk from unsafe exposure to UV radiation, even in winter. So hang on to your hats, people, and follow our advice:
1 Get your daily dose of vitamin D when the UV Index is below three
The majority of Queenslanders only need a few minutes of sun exposure on most days, even in winter, to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D.
This exposure should always occur when the UV Index level is below three – outside peak UV times, even on cooler and cloudier days – to minimise the risk of skin damage, premature ageing, and future skin cancer.
Exposure to harmful UV radiation when the UV Index level is above three, even in winter in Queensland, can significantly increase your chances of being diagnosed with a deadly melanoma later in life.
2 Don’t overdo your daily dose of sun in order to get Vitamin D
Only 15 per cent of Queenslanders are Vitamin D deficient, and many of these people are susceptible for familial and genetic reasons.
The majority of us only need a small amount of sun exposure to receive adequate vitamin D, and most of us can get it through incidental outdoor activities like hanging washing on the line, walking to the mailbox or bringing the bins in.
Just five or six minutes of sunshine is adequate exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
Be SunSmart, even in winter, and use sun protection when outdoors, especially when the UV Index is three or above.
3 Increase your daily dose of dietary sources of vitamin D
Older adults, people with naturally very dark skin, patients with osteoporosis, people who get limited sun exposure and people with obesity are at the highest risk of vitamin D deficiency.
A small amount of vitamin D can be obtained through dietary intake, through foods such as oily fish (salmon and tuna), cod liver oil, milk, eggs, sardines and Swiss cheese.
And remember, if you have any concerns about your vitamin D intake, talk to your GP. And while you’re there, ask for a skin check.
Stay up-to-date with winter UV Index levels via the Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app, your newest winter accessory. Download it for free today!