Vitamin D: let the sun shine

THE message to protect against sun exposure in order to avoid skin cancer finally seems to be getting through to Australians, but it could be creating a new problem – vitamin D deficiency.

A significant proportion of the Australian population – nearly one in four people – could have moderate vitamin D deficiency, according to new data from Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. 

But how can doctors strike a reasonable balance between advising people to protect themselves from the sun and making sure they have adequate vitamin D levels?

In her recent unpublished analysis of 100 healthy people at Westmead, endocrinologist Dr Jenny Gunton, senior research fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, found 24 of the people tested had vitamin D levels in the range of 25–50 nmol/L.

At this range, the serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is considered mildly deficient, according to a position statement by the Australian

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