We are constantly being warned about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and skin cancer – and for good reason. In Australia, skin cancer and melanoma rates are dangerously high due to the high levels of both ultraviolet A (ageing) and ultraviolet B (what burns us).
Paradoxically Australians get most of their Vitamin D through exposure of our skin to the sun and getting the right mix - enough sun exposure to make adequate vitamin D but not enough to get skin cancer – can be a real source of confusion.
Fortunately prolonged sun exposure isn’t needed to achieve healthy Vitamin D levels. In fact, just a few minutes of exposure in the morning during the summer months should provide sufficient Vitamin D for most people. For those with naturally darker skin, the amount needs to be three to six times that of fairer skinned people. During the winter months in Australia, when the UV Index levels are typically less than three all day, most people need around two to three hours of sun exposure over a week in order to get enough Vitamin D.
Despite the relatively low levels of sun exposure needed for Vitamin D production, an estimated 40 – 70% of people in Australia still have Vitamin D deficiency. An individual’s ability to absorb Vitamin D from natural resources maybe due to air pollution, cloud coverage, sunscreen, skin colour and age. Fortunately Vitamin D isn't only acquired through sun exposure - in fact, it can be absorbed from food and supplements and supported by exercise.
Fatty fish is one of the best sources of Vitamin D; these fish include salmon, tuna, trout, eel, sardines and mackerel are good sources (and don’t forget canned tuna as it can also provide you with your daily source of VitaminD). Oranges and cooked beef liver are other good sources.
Some foods that aren’t naturally high in Vitamin D are often fortified with it, especially dairy products, because Vitamin D is essential in helping the body effectively absorb calcium. Check the labels to see which products are fortified with VitD, if you think you aren’t getting enough through other sources.
Another option is supplements. However, they are meant for exactly that – to supplement your diet, not replace it. You should still aim to include vitamin and nutrient rich foods in your daily intake and use Vitamin D or fish liver oil to help fill in the gaps.Regular exercise, while being great for your heart and weigh, can also help with your body’s production of Vitamin D.
For more information on how to obtain enough vitamin D without increasing your risk on skin cancer, free call The Sun Doctor Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46) today. Otherwise, head online to https://sundoctors.com.au/ and book a skin check appointment.