Protecting your skin from the harsh Australian rays while getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D is an important balancing act – one many of us remain confused about.
Recent studies have shown sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15-plus actually reduces the human body’s capacity to produce vitamin D3 by more than 98 per cent. And the higher the SPF the less vitamin D3 is produced.
National anti-cancer institutes such as the Cancer Council Australia recommend an SPF 50-plus sunscreen for superior sun protection, and rightly so as more than 434,000 Australians are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers each year.
So what do we do?
Luckily new recommendations have been released which provide a clear guide on how Australian’s can balance sun protection with Vitamin D3 production – and the bonus: it’s dermatologically approved!
Cancer Council Australia, the Australasian College of Dermatologists, the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, Osteoporosis Australia and the Endocrine Society of Australia have seen the confusion Aussies face and have come together to solve the dilemma.
New guidelines urge Aussies to avoid deliberate sun exposure in the summer months, when the UV index is three or above, as only a few minutes of sun exposure most days of the week is sufficient for Vitamin D3 production. However in the winter months the UV index is commonly below three, so people should roll up their sleeves and seek some sun around midday.
Of course these recommendations are not a one-size-fits-all approach and people who are at risk of vitamin D3 deficiency should seek advice from their doctor.
For the full list of recommendations click here.
Top photo from Chris Martin’s Flickr photostream