How much sun do children need for healthy bone development?

Vitamin D is a nutrient needed by the body for overall health and to maintain strong bones. It helps to absorb calcium from food, which is one of the main building blocks of bone tissue. It’s also important for healthy muscles, nerves and a properly functioning immune system.1 The majority of vitamin D is made in our skin when it’s exposed to sunlight. This is the best way for us to obtain our daily vitamin D requirements as only a few foods contain vitamin D.

Some types of fish naturally contain vitamin D, and although some processed foods have vitamin D added to them, such as baby formula, margarine and some types of milk, most people only obtain 25% or less of their daily vitamin D requirements from food.2

To obtain sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure, many children only require small amounts of time in the sun. During Australian summers, most adults and children with light skin will get enough vitamin D during normal outdoor activities. Approximately six to seven minutes in the mid‐morning or mid‐afternoon with face and arms exposed is all that’s required. Children with darker skin may need to be outside up to three to six times longer. The benefits of exposing your child to the sun must always be weighed against the risk of skin damage, and sunscreen and sun protection measures are still very important.