I was extremely surprised to be told that my son should not be wearing a hat at Kinder at the moment. After years of covering up, I was really shocked to be told that my kid needs the sunshine!
Like many Victorians, I was not aware of the revised guidelines for sun exposure from May to August each year. While the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer, it is also the best natural source of vitamin D.
According to the Cancer Council Victoria, Skin cancer kills nearly 1,900 Australians each year. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. These frightening statistics have ensured that Australian’s have been hiding from the sun, year round.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of us are now suffering from Vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D may have no obvious symptoms but without treatment, can have significant health effects. Low vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency causes bone and muscle pain, poor bone mineralisation (softer bones) leading to rickets (bone deformity) in children and osteomalacia in adults. Vitamin D is crucial for bone and muscle development and in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Here are the current recommendations for winter sun exposure, taken from the Cancer Council Victoria website
From May to August
In Victoria from May to August, when the UV falls below 3, sun protection is not required unless outside for extended periods, near highly reflective surfaces such as snow, or when the UV reaches 3 and above.
During these months, most people need between two to three hours of midday winter sun exposure spread over a week, to the face, arms, hands (or equivalent area of skin) to help with their vitamin D levels. People with naturally very dark skin may need 3 to 6 times this amount of exposure.
If you’re worried about your vitamin D levels, speak to your doctor. Levels can be tested with a simple blood test and options such as supplements can be discussed depending on your circumstances.