Did you know?

Up to a third of Australians may be vitamin D deficient

Vitamin D

Up to a third of Australians are deficient in vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones, muscles and general health.

Vitamin D is crucial to bone and muscle development and in preventing osteoporosis. The most common source is exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet radiation is responsible for vitamin D production in the skin.

Most people can maintain adequate vitamin D levels through a few hours of non-peak UV exposure a week. However, if your skin is very dark skin, you may need as much as three to six times the exposure.

People at risk of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Lack of sun exposure. The elderly, people who spend a lot of time indoors or those who wear covering clothing for religious or other reasons
     
  • Breastfed babies. Babies are dependent on their mothers for their vitamin D levels
     
  • Very dark skin. Skin pigment acts as a filter to UV
     
  • Certain medical conditions. Some conditions affect vitamin D metabolism, including obesity, liver and kidney disease.

How much sun do you need?

Summer

10 minutes twice a day of non-peak UV sun exposure

Winter

two or three hours exposure a week of the face, hands, arms or legs

People with dark skin need more exposure and may need to take a vitamin D supplement to avoid deficiency.

 

6 November, 2012