Its hard to get the right balance of sun – too much and you are at risk of skin cancer – too little and you risk Vitamin D deficiency. Most of my patient’s struggle with the balance, and if I’m honest I do too!
Being deficient in Vitamin D is a problem – it can be a factor in osteoporosis and now we know it can also lead to muscle fatigue – so when you exercise you feel tired much more quickly. We don’t routinely test blood Vitamin D in Australia anymore because it’s not cost effective – so don’t go asking to get your Vitamin D checked unless you’re willing to pay for the test! Pregnant ladies, people with osteoporosis and dark skinned people (brown bears like myself because we don’t absorb vitamin D very well) are high risk and will usually be tested – but for everyone else its about trying to boost your levels WITHOUT copping a skin cancer.
The guidelines suggest 20 minutes of sunlight in summer and 40 minutes in winter (good luck with winter sun!). This means having SOME skin exposed to the sun – preferably arms and legs so you absorb the Vitamin D. Going for a short walk with some skin exposed is ideal – get your vitamin dose and do something physical – win win!!!
BUT what you don’t want to do is rub yourself in baby oil and lie in the sun baking – that’s when skin cancer starts creeping in. And when I see 20 year olds with melanoma my heart cries – this is something COMPLETELY preventable!! I don’t think I will ever understand lying in a solarium or on the beach with no sun cream when there are people in their 30s with melanoma that has spread throughout the body likely to be the cause of their death.
I love the sun! There’s something special about sitting with the sun on your back with a book/glass of wine/lunch/friends. It’s just about achieving some sort of balance!