You need Vitamin D and calcium for strong, healthy bones. Your body makes Vitamin D when the sunlight touches your skin. Shade, clothing, sunscreen or glass windows prevent this occurring. However, due to the risks of sunburn and skin cancer we need to be careful how much sun we get.
September to April
A daily walk or some form of outdoor activity in the early morning or later afternoon is recommended. Fair skinned people 6-7 minutes, dark skinned people up to 20 minutes on most days.
Sun-protection – shade, clothing coverage, a hat that shades face and neck, sunscreen and sunglasses between 10am and 4pm is recommended for protection from the sun.
May to August
A daily walk or outdoor activity around the middle of the day is important. You will need to spend more time outside – about 40 minutes each day with your face and hands exposed.
It is important to talk to your doctor about your Vitamin D levels.
You may need to take Vitamin D tablets.
Who is at risk of low Vitamin D levels?
- People with naturally dark skin.
- Veiled women and their children.
- People who do not go outside, including many elderly people.
- People who live in the South Island with little time outside during May to August – this includes nearly all of us!
Some foods contain small amounts of Vitamin D including:
- Oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardines, warehou) – eating these fish twice a week may also help you to lower your cholesterol!
- Milk and milk products.
- Eggs and liver.
- Some margarines have Vitamin D added.
If you don’t have enough Vitamin D you could have aches, pain in your muscles, cramps and bones that become soft and break.
If you think you may need extra Vitamin D, ask your doctor.
For food sources of Vitamin D see www.healthinfo.org.nz and type in ‘How to get your daily calcium & vitamin D’.
Reference: Community and Public Health (CDHB) www.cph.co.nz