Are you risking your bone health this summer?

Spending time in the sun is a great way to naturally build up the body’s levels of Vitamin D. However, in a country like Australia, it pays to remember that there’s a difference between “getting enough” of this essential vitamin, and developing unhealthy sun habits.

Depending on your skin type, it’s a case of getting the right amount of sunshine at the right times of day to gain the benefits of Vitamin D, while protecting yourself at other times from the dangers of over exposure to the sun.

In other words, natural exposure to sunshine, without wearing sunscreen, does have its benefits, because your body can more readily absorb the Vitamin D that sunshine generates. Most good, high ‘factor’ sunscreens prevent the sun’s UV radiation from penetrating the skin, and therefore may diminish production of Vitamin D. Obtaining the balance of sufficient sunshine for Vitamin D production, whilst practising safe sun exposure, is important.

Typical sunlight exposure guideline during summer for someone living in Australia

Skin type Skin exposed Recommended time of day Sun exposure
Moderately fair Arms or equivalent Mid morning or mid afternoon 5 – 10 minutes*
Darker skin Arms or equivalent Mid morning or mid afternoon 15 – 60 minutes*
*Sun exposure time varies depending on location within Australia and type of skin.  Refer HERE for more details.

Food for thought

Another way to top up your Vitamin D intake over summer is through some very tasty foods, just perfect for this time of year.

Start your day with breakfast cereal fortified with extra Vitamin D and calcium, or go for some eggs, another dietary source of Vitamin D. For lunch or dinner, consider some fatty fish, regarded to be the best source of Vitamin D; species such as mackerel, herring, trout and salmon, which cook up a treat on the BBQ.

And when it comes to something cool and refreshing, remember that milk and dairy products pack a bone‐building punch, as they naturally contain high levels of calcium, essential for building strong bones. Make the most of your summer break with just right amount of sunshine and a range of delicious foods for more Vitamin D and stronger bones.