Vitamin D Advice for Tasmanians

Vitamin D Advice for Tasmanians

In summer around one third of Tasmanian teens and adults do not have enough vitamin D and in winter and spring this grows to around two thirds.

During winter In Tasmania it is very difficult for our bodies to make enough vitamin D because there is less sunlight, UV levels are low and we cover up to keep warm.

Even people who spend a lot of time outside in winter can have low vitamin D.

Children aged five to 12 years are less likely to have low vitamin D if they play outside all year round.

You need vitamin D for healthy bones and muscles and overall good health. Plus, getting enough vitamin D will help prevent osteoporosis and rickets.

Sunlight (UV light) is the best source of vitamin D but your body cannot make vitamin D with sunlight that has passed through glass, as it filters out the UVB.

Some foods such as oily fish, eggs and mushrooms contain small amounts of vitamin D and some milk and soy products have vitamin D added. As food only has a small amount of vitamin D it is difficult to get enough from diet alone.

How much vitamin D your body makes depends on your skin type, amount of skin exposed, UV level, time in the sun, and individual lifestyle and health factors.

Who is at risk of low vitamin D?

  • People with naturally very dark skin.
  • People with little or no sun exposure:
    •                  those in institutions, hospitals or housebound for long periods
    •                  those who always wear concealing clothing
    •                  those who deliberately avoid the sun.
  • People who are overweight or obese.
  • Babies of vitamin D deficient mothers.

To help get enough vitamin D: 

Your skin type Summer Winter 
People with fair skin

 

Spend about 10-15 minutes a day in the sun mid-morning (11 am) OR mid-afternoon
(3 pm)
Spend at least 30 minutes in the sun a day at midday
People with naturally very dark skin

 

Spend about 20-90 minutes in the sun mid-morning (11 am) OR mid-afternoon
(3 pm)
Spend at least 1.5 to 3 hours in the sun around midday 
  • Avoid sunburn – it increases your risk of skin cancer.
  • You need sunlight on as much skin as possible, at least hands and arms.
  • Be outdoors and active every day to help make vitamin D.
  • During summer avoid the middle of the day when UV levels are highest.
  • When UV is 3 or above protect your skin and eyes from the sun if you are outside for longer periods.
  • March and October are good time to get some extra sun to boost vitamin D levels.

Talk to your GP

Some chronic diseases can affect how your body makes vitamin D, ask your GP for more information.

Your GP can provide individual advice. For some people vitamin D supplements are another way to increase vitamin D levels.

Check the UV index

The UV index gives you information on the strength of the sun.

Check the UV Index daily at www.cancertas.org.au, www.bom.gov.au/uv, in the weather section of the newspaper, on the nightly news or as a free app for smart phones from www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/interactive-tools/free-sunsmart-app

 Vitamin D in Tasmania

Vitamin D in Tasmania in plain English 

SunSmart