A little bit of sunshine goes a long way

Tasmanians should expose themselves to small amounts of sunshine in place of using a vitamin D supplement. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

Tasmanians should expose themselves to small amounts of sunshine in place of using a vitamin D supplement. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

TACKLING Tasmania's vitamin D deficiency is a careful balancing act for health authorities.

For a number of years Cancer Council Tasmania, the state Health Department and the Menzies Research Institute have worked together to ensure that people take sun protection measures during the warmer months, but then not so over winter.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics results, about 43 per cent of the adult population is vitamin D deficient in winter.

The council's cancer control director Dr Kathryn Terry said yesterday while broader research continued into the deficiency, the authorities had been working together to highlight that from about mid-April to mid-September when the UV reading was below 3, Tasmanians should be encouraged to expose at least their hands and arms.

She said this was a general rule for the adult population and in particular the elderly or those who may be more confined to an indoor environment.

However, Tasmanian children were less inclined to suffer from the deficiency as they were more likely to get adequate exposure through outdoor activities.

Dr Terry said the use of vitamin D supplements was often debated but could not comment  on whether their use was beneficial.

She said the issue had gained greater awareness in the past decade, however, more needed to be done to ensure people sought adequate vitamin D through the cooler months.

FACT FILE

 To boost vitamin D levels when the UV reading is low or below 3 longer exposure to the sun is required. 

 Being outside at midday is best. Expose as much skin as possible and don't wear hats or sunscreen unless outside for long periods or near reflective surfaces like water or snow.

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