The National Osteoporosis Society launches sunlight campaign to boost vitamin D levels in summer months

The Sunlight Campaign launched by the National Osteoporosis Society reminds people to get outside for a few minutes every day between May and September to keep their vitamin D levels topped up.

Vitamin D has been long known to improve bone health, by helping our bodies process calcium effectively – it is essential for bone and muscle health as it promotes calcium absorption from our food. Our bones need the added mineral to make them strong and supportive; and vitamin D may play an important role in muscle function.

So, what can I do to boost my vitamin D?

  1. Sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps our bodies to process calcium effectively and is essential for healthy bones.
  2. Exposure to sunlight every day between 11am and 3pm from May until September will increase Vitamin D and help to keep bones healthy.
  3. You should try to get 10 minutes of sun exposure to your bare skin, once or twice a day (depending on skin type), without sunscreen and taking care not to burn.
  4. Always take care not to burn, especially during the strong sunshine in the middle of the day.  Babies and children have very sensitive skin and need careful protection.
  5. Even on cloudy days, your body can still produce Vitamin D from sunlight but it can take a little longer.
  6. Get outside between May and September so that your body can produce enough Vitamin D to help see you through the winter months.
  7. Make sure that you are actually outside.  Your body cannot produce Vitamin D even if you are sitting by a window or in a conservatory on a sunny day. You must be outside.
  8. Only a small proportion of vitamin D comes from the food we eat, but it is still important to include vitamin D rich foods in your diet, such as oily fish and eggs.  Many margarines, breakfast cereals and dairy alternatives are fortified, but do check the label.
  9. If you are 65+ years, not exposed to much sun (e.g. housebound or cover-up for cultural reasons) or a pregnant or breast-feeding woman, you should consider taking a daily, 10 micrograms (400IU), vitamin D supplement.

If you are fair-skinned, have lots of moles and freckles or have a family history of skin cancer, you should be particularly careful in the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer, and avoid the strong sunshine in the middle of the day.

In 2010, the National Osteoporosis Society led a number of leading health charities with an interest in vitamin D and issued a consensus statement which agreed on a safe sun message. The statement was the result of collaborative work between the National Osteoporosis Society, the British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the National Heart Forum  and the Primary Care Dermatology Society.

It's really important as many people as possible learn about how vitamin D helps build strong bones and how to get vitamin D naturally and safely from the sun. So please share this page with your friends on facebook.

For more information go to the National Osteoporosis Society's website.