Sun

We all know the dangers of too much sun; burning, ageing, skin cancers, to name a few.

But new research tells us we can only make Vitamin D from the midday sun.

Does that sound like it’s against all that we’ve been told about the sun? It did to me. But not all sunlight is the same.

Ultraviolet (UV) light reaches earth in two forms, either UVA or UVB. The difference is in the length of the wave (learn more about UVA & UVB). Both can be dangerous for skin health. UVA is present all day long and UVB is most present around 10am to 2pm (in the southern part of Australia, most of the day for the northern half).

Importantly, we can only make Vitamin D from UVB rays. We need Vitamin D to properly absorb calcium to keep our bones strong. It’s also necessary for preventing a range of cancers.

So how do we balance the negative effects of too much sun with our need for Vitamin D?

The recommendation of the Working Group of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, Endocrine Society of Australia and Osteoporosis Australia is to ‘expose our hands, face and arms to one-third of the amount that produces a faint redness of your skin most days’.

So that means that if your skin starts to go pink after 15 minutes in the sun, you should only be exposed without sunscreen for a maximum of 5 minutes.

That seems like a sensible balance to me.

Of course, you should continue to avoid all possibility of sunburn: remember to slip, slop, slap!


Dr Carmen Hunwardsen owns and operates Carmen’s Spinal Care, a busy North Brisbane chiropractic clinic in Everton Hills.