Let’s talk about Vitamin D, writes Katie Clift of Cancer Council Queensland.
What is it, how do we get it, why do we need it, and are Queenslanders actually getting enough?
Well, let’s start with the ‘what’… Vitamin D is essential for good health and is created naturally when the skin is exposed to UVB radiation from sunlight.
How do we get it? The best source of Vitamin D is UVB radiation from the sun. UV radiation levels vary depending on location, time of year, time of day, cloud coverage and the environment. Some foods, such as oily fish and eggs, also contain small amounts of Vitamin D, however food only makes a small contribution to the body’s overall levels and it’s difficult to get enough from diet alone.
Why do we need it? To keep bones and muscles strong and healthy.
So, do Queenslanders get enough – especially during winter, when the days are cooler and cloudier?
The good news is, YES, the majority of us do get enough Vitamin D.
In fact, research shows about 85 per cent of people living in the Sunshine State maintain adequate Vitamin D even during winter months, despite common concerns that we need more sunlight to boost our levels.
Just a few minutes of sun exposure every day in Queensland, even in winter, is sufficient to keep your Vitamin D at healthy levels.
But be careful to seek any exposure when the UV Index is below three, early in the morning or late in the afternoon afternoon – to prevent skin damage, premature ageing, and risks of future skin cancer. Our free SunSmart app tracks the UV Index in real time to keep you safe and undamaged by the sun’s harmful rays.
Most of us can maintain adequate Vitamin D levels through incidental sun exposure, simply by bringing the bins in, hanging the washing on the line, or walking to your mailbox.
With the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, our Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, and Slide mantra applies all year round in Queensland. Your skin can still get damaged and sunburned in winter, even if it’s cloudy, cool and windy.
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.
If you have any concerns about your Vitamin D intake, talk to your GP today, and ask for a skin check while you’re there.
Stay up-to-date with daily UV levels via the Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app – your newest winter accessory. Download it for free today!