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  • Time for a healthy dose of vitamin D

    29 May 2013

    Cancer Council SA is now encouraging South Australians to soak up a healthy dose of vitamin D through mild sun exposure.

    With the UV levels now dropping below 3 in South Australia, it is a reminder for people to ease their sun protection habits and get a good natural source of vitamin D.

    Cancer Council SA General Manager of Cancer Control, Dr Marion Eckert, said that vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and overall health.

    “Now that the UV index has slipped below three in most areas of the state, it’s a great time to get some sun to help boost our vitamin D levels,” Dr Eckert said.

    “It is important that South Australians take a balanced SunSmart approach, as UV exposure from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer but also the best natural source of vitamin D.

    “At levels below three, the UV is generally not damaging to the skin and sun protection is
    not required unless near highly reflective surfaces such as snow and water, or if the UV reaches three and above.”

    A sample of South Australian schools surveyed in the recent National Primary School Sun Protection Survey revealed that the issue of vitamin D had been raised in two thirds of SA primary schools.

    Following this information, 39% of schools made policy changes encouraging sun protection at only some times during the year.

    “We are encouraging schools, and the SA community, to relax their sun protection once UV levels fall below 3 and to enjoy the sun over winter, until the end of August when UV levels will begin to rise again. So if you’re heading outside at lunchtime, roll up your sleeves and leave the sunscreen and hat behind,” Dr Eckert added.

    See the times that sun protection is required for your local area using the SunSmart UV Alert or download the free SunSmart iPhone app. This handy app is free from iTunes and allows users to check the sun protection times but also to find out if they are getting enough sun from May to August to help with vitamin D levels.

    At this time of year when UV levels are low, it is recommended that people with fair to olive skin get two to three hours of sun exposure over a week to the face, arms and hands (or equivalent area of skin).

    People with naturally very dark skin require more UV exposure to produce adequate levels of vitamin D as the pigment of their skin reduces UV radiation absorption.

    Typically, the rise in UV levels in September signals the need to resume Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek & Slide precautions.

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