How to get your Vitamin D without risking skin cancer

There is an increasing understanding of the link between adequate vitamin D and good health, and bone health in particular. Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body following skin exposure to sunlight. The trouble is that in the Australian climate that very same sun exposure is linked to skin cancer and melanoma hence the slip slop slap message. New guidelines on finding the balance between natural vitamin D production and minimizing skin cancer risk have been developed and endorsed by 5 medical societies including the Australasian College of Dermatologists and Cancer Council Australia. The good news on these guidelines is that it doesn’t matter where in Australia you live or which season it may happen to be-the guidelines can still be followed safely.

The six key points are:
1. When the UV index is below 3, no sun protection is needed (except for outdoor workers).
2. A UV index at 3 or above demands full protection from the sun using a range of methods.
3. When the UV Index is likely to be 3 or above, a few minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sun to arms and hands on most days of the week will maintain vitamin D levels.
4. To boost vitamin D, reduce clothing cover rather than increasing duration of sun exposure.
5. Regular use of sunscreen has little effect on vitamin D levels.
6. For those at high risk of skin cancer or who otherwise avoid sun exposure and are at risk of vitamin D deficiency, dietary vitamin D supplementation may be considered.

How do you know when the UV level is over 3? Easy – check it with this app . At the time of writing Brisbane’s UV was headed to 12.1, and Brisbane’s average UV index varies from 4 to 13 depending on the month so make sure you check the UV rating before uncovering!