Seeking sun to boost vitamin D a major risk in Queensland

Cancer Council is concerned that Queenslanders may be placing themselves at serious risk of skin damage by seeking additional sun exposure to boost vitamin D levels during winter.

Despite common concerns about Queenslanders not getting enough sunshine during colder months, the latest figures show 85 per cent of the State maintain adequate vitamin D during winter.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was a major misconception that most Queenslanders were vitamin D deficient and needed to seek sunshine to boost their levels.


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“Queensland is the Sunshine State – we have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and are at risk of skin damage even in winter,” Ms Clift said.

“The majority of Queenslanders only need a few minutes of sun exposure on most days, even in winter, for sufficient levels of vitamin D.

“This exposure should occur before 10am or after 2pm even on cooler and cloudier days.

“Exposure to harmful UV radiation between 10am and 2pm, even in winter in Queensland, can significantly increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.

“Queenslanders only need a small amount of sun exposure to receive adequate vitamin D, and most people get it through typical outdoor day-to-day activities.

“Just five or six minutes of sunshine is adequate exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels – hanging your clothes on the washing line or walking to your mailbox, for example.

“It’s important for Queenslanders to prioritise sun safety and ensure full sun protection when outdoors, and the UV Index level is three or above.”

Older adults, people with naturally very dark skin, patients with osteoporosis, people who get limited sun exposure and people with obesity are at the highest risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

A small amount of Vitamin D can be obtained through dietary intake, through foods such as oily fish (salmon and tuna), cod liver oil, milk, eggs, sardines and Swiss cheese.

Queenslanders with any questions about Vitamin D intake should contact their GP.

Sun protection is required when the UV Index is three and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is three and above all year round, so sun protection is required in every season.

Queenslanders can stay up-to-date with winter UV Index levels via the Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

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