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Are you getting enough winter sun?

Regulating our exposure to natural and artificial light is one of the modern health skills we need to live well in a largely indoor world.

On the one hand we have ‘light pollution’ that results from too much artificial light at night, and on the other, not getting enough sunlight can also cause problems.

Research recently published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has found that even if you follow the recommended levels of sun exposure to help ensure adequate Vitamin D intake during winter, you might still be left lacking.

Researchers looked at a group of CBD office workers in Melbourne to test whether or not they got adequate levels of Vitamin D throughout the year. Adequate levels of Vitamin D in the blood are 50nmol/Land above. The average office worker got around 67nmol/L in the summer months, but in winter, their levels fell to around 43 nmol/L, despite complying with recommended levels of sun exposure.

Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium from food and it aids the flow of calcium between the bones and the blood. The sun’s ulraviolet radiation is the best source of vitamin D, however it’s also the biggest cause of skin cancer. To try and balance these effects, guidelines have been developed.

Hot months – September to April:

  • a few minutes of UVR exposure on face, hand and arms (or less than 15% of the skin surface) at mid-morning or mid-afternoon on most days of the week is enough time to make 1000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in light skinned people.

Cooler months – May to August:

  • between 2 to 3 hours spread across the week is required. For dark skinned people, during both summer and winder, 3 to 6 times this amount of sun exposure is required.

However this research suggests we may need more during winter.

Office workers: take care to get enough sun during winter

  • Use active transport to get to and from work by walking or cycling.
  • If you drive or take public transport, add 15 minutes of sunlight to your commute by parking the car at a distance from work, or getting off the bus or train a few stops earlier.
  • Go outside for lunch.
  • Take a short energy break during the day, outside.
  • Top up on outdoor activities over the weekend.