Why it’s Important to be in the Sun

26 April 2022
Posted by: Chelsea

In countries like Australia, a lot of official time is spent warning people of the need to be careful in the sun for reasons such as sunburn and potentially skin cancer.

However, it’s essential to maintain a balance and to spend some time in the sun.

Here’s why it’s important to be in the sun – in controlled circumstances.

Vitamin D – one of the essentials of life

Our bodies must have vitamin D for a healthy life.

It helps us to absorb calcium which leads to healthier bones. Without vitamin D (or with insufficiencies) we and our children might suffer a range of illnesses including rickets. Although that might sound like something from the 19th century and earlier, it remains a risk today.

Obtaining vitamin D

It’s surprisingly little appreciated that for most children, about 80% of the vitamin D they need comes from their skin’s interaction with the sun and NOT foodstuffs.

True, food like oily fish is very important as a source too but most nutritionists say children are unlikely to get sufficient vitamin D from their food alone and need access to the sun to do so.

Some vitamin D deficiencies can arise due to illnesses and medications. Your doctor will usually check for these if they suspect a shortage of vitamin D is a potential issue.

What this means for your child’s exposure to the sun

Some parents like to keep their children out of the sun as much as possible.

That can mean keeping them inside or under shade for much of the day. Alternatively, some parents also like to dress their children from head to foot in protective clothing layers.

Neither of these things is advisable. Your child’s skin needs some exposure to the sun for several reasons, including the formation of vitamin D.

There may be some differences in health advice here depending upon your location and the time of year. You should consult your doctor for specific vitamin D related advice and do please note that this IS NOT qualified medical opinion, however, in general terms some specialists advise:

  • in summer, a few minutes each day should be sufficient;
  • during the winter, aim for 2-3 hours per week;
  • darker-skinned children and adults may need more exposure to the sun ifthey’re to get the same vitamin D benefits as those with lighter skin;
  • try to get the sun-time before or after the 10am-4.30pm range in summer, when the sun is typically at its strongest;
  • at other times, don’t forget best practice use of sunblock, hat and sensible covering clothing.

Above all and particularly where children and teenagers are concerned, don’t let them get burned by the sun while trying to ‘top up’ their vitamin D levels!

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