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How to: Keep on top of vitamin D this winter

Posted by Emily: May 2012 

Vitamin D is made in our bodies through a series of processes that start when our skin is exposed to sunshine.  Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone and muscle development, including the prevention of osteoporosis and is important for general health.  

The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the best natural source of vitamin D. However, UV radiation is also the major cause of skin cancer, which is why it is important to take a balanced approach to UV exposure at different times of the year – especially in the southern parts of Australia such as Victoria.

So during the cooler months of May to August when the UV is lower in Victoria, remember that people with fair to olive skin should aim for two to three hours of midday winter sun exposure to the face, hands and arms (or equivalent area of skin) spread over the week. But remember, as with all the best things in life, some conditions apply!*

During the cold and wet winter months in Victoria, it may simply not be practical or possible for some people to get two to three hours of sun exposure each week.

That's when SunSmart's nifty free smartphone app comes in handy! It actually features a vitamin D tracker to help users find out if they're getting enough sun to help with vitamin D levels. It also alerts users to their daily sun protection needs. 

Those concerned about vitamin D levels should visit their doctor. Levels can be checked via a simple blood test and options such as supplements can be discussed depending on your individual circumstances.

For more information visit www.sunsmart.com.au/vitamin_d

*Conditions include:

  • People with naturally darker skin may require up to three to six times more sun exposure to help with their vitamin D levels.
  • Sun protection is still required if you are near highly reflective surfaces such as snow, outside for extended periods or when the UV reaches 3 and above.
  • Daily exercise can help further assist the body's production of vitamin D so going for a jog or a brisk walk over winter is recommended!

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