Earlier in the year we discussed Vitamin D deficiency here. However that was during Winter and perhaps you have forgotten just how much sun exposure you should have now that its warmer and you are getting ready for your Summer holiday!
Just a quick refresher. Vitamin D is essential for optimal bone health and muscle function. It assists the absorption of calcium from the intestine and acts in the mineralisation of the bone. Vitamin D also contributes to muscle strength and a deficiency can lead to poor bone health and increase in falls and fractures in the elderly. Nearly one one third of adults in Australia have Vitamin D deficiency and this rate may be even higher at the end of Winter and in southern parts of Australia.
So just how much sun should you be exposing yourself to this Summer?
Osteoporosis Australia recommends the following:
For moderately fair skin during Summer: 5-10 minutes most days on exposed arms (or equivalent) at mid morning (10am) or mid afternoon (2pm)
For darker skin during Summer: 15-60 minutes most days on exposed arms (or equivalent) at mid morning (10am) or mid afternoon (2pm)
Too much exposure can cause skin cancer. Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Two out of three Australians will get a skin cancer before the age of 70. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the major cause of skin cancer and also the best source of Vitamin D. In Australia we need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
During summer it is important to look and listen for UV Index levels. You can’t see and you can’t feel UV radiation. Heat or high temperatures are not an indication of UV radiation. Check out the Bureau of Meteorology website for more information on UV levels here. When UV levels are moderate or above, then you should use a combination of sun protection measures to keep you safe.
The Bureau of Meteorology recommends the following sun safe measures:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing
- Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours
- Slap on a broad brimmed hat
- Seek shade
- Slide on wrap around sunglasses
Enjoy the sun safely these holidays!
Article written by Dr Melanie Woollam (Osteopath)
Osteoporosis Australia. www.osteoporosis.org.au
Bureau of Meterology. www.bom.gov.au