What is Vitamin D? It is a vital part of a healthy body. It can be obtained by dietary origin or made in the skin with ultraviolet B from the Sun. It is best known for keeping bones healthy by increasing the intestinal absorption of calcium. A vitamin D deficiency can be serious, especially in children - the deficiency has been linked to several bone diseases, including osteoporosis.

Adequate vitamin D levels can benefit multiple sclerosis, heart disease, the immune system and bone health and partially prevent cancer of the prostate, breast, ovaries, cervix, pancreas, lungs, colon, bladder, oesophagus and brain as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and melanoma.

Therefore, it’s important to achieve the right balance of of skin exposure to sun exposure in a given week, to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D without sustaining sun damage.

We have put together a guide to help you determine how best to get your vitamin D without compromising your skin.

How is Vitamin D made? An Exposure Guide

Firstly, it’s important to engage in regular shortened exposure to the sun between 10am and 2pm, to achieve optimal vitamin D levels. The key to this exposure is getting some sun without darkening the skin to any degree.

How often you need to do this will be determined by how much of your skin is exposed to the light at each session and your oral vitamin D intake. It makes sense to expose the skin on your stomach and thighs rather than areas such as your face that may have had too much UV in the past. If you are exposing larger areas of the body (eg back and front), then only once a week will be enough.

Have you ever seen office workers lying in a park at lunchtime in their swimmers? Thought they were silly? Now you know they are in fact quite clever.

Now that we know it’s important to get some sun exposure between 10am and 2pm, we then must determine is what the right amount of time is to spend outside, when UVB rays are available.

The answer? It all depends on the season. Generally, the time is determined to be one quarter of the time it would take your untanned skin to burn. This will vary depending on your skin type; on average, between 5 and 20 minutes in summer for Australians in Queensland. This is a good article that gives detail on how to determine how long is best in Victoria Australia, as an example.

So, what is Vitamin D? It's an essential tool for a healthy body! We hope this guide helps you to stay safe, healthy and happy while out and about in the sun, and achieve your optimal vitamin D dose.