Explosion in vitamin D testing reflects need for simple sun rules

GROWING concern about the health impacts of vitamin D deficiency may be outweighing longstanding sun avoidance messages, a study of GPs suggests.

The survey of 500 GPs in NSW found most overestimated the amount of sun exposure a person needed – 64% believed it was 10 minutes during peak UV time in summer while 21% said 30 minutes.

However, a third of the respondents urged their patients to use sun protection at all times, even in winter.

The study authors noted that Australia lacked a “single clear and concrete recommendation”, which is reflected in their finding that only one in five GPs had read the 2005 National Position Statement on vitamin D and sun exposure.

One in three GPs said more than 40% of the patients they tested were lacking vitamin D.

Concern over deficiency is reflected in an estimated one million vitamin D tests being ordered so far this year, and an eightfold surge in the numbers from 329,000