The amount of UV exposure needed to maintain vitamin D levels depends on the time of year, location, skin type, day-to-day activity and individual circumstances.
May to August in Victoria
For most people, the general rule of thumb is when the UV is below 3, sun protection is not required unless near highly reflective surfaces such as snow or outside for extended periods.
In Victoria, the average UV is below 3 from May until August, making it a great time to roll up your sleeves and get some winter sun. Most people need between two and three hours of midday winter sun exposure spread over a week, to the face, arms, hands (or equivalent area of skin) to help with their vitamin D levels. People with naturally very dark skin may need three to six times this amount of exposure.
Watch this short video to find out how much sun you need to maintain healthy vitamin D levels in winter.
September to April in Victoria
Whenever UV levels reach 3 and above , the UV can cause damage, increasing your risk of skin cancer so sun protection is required. In Victoria, average UV levels are 3 and above from September through to April. Most Victorians require only a few minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sun exposure to the face, arms, hands (or equivalent area of skin). Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense. People with naturally very dark skin may need three to six times this amount.
Sunscreen use during the sun protection times should not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency . When sunscreen is tested in laboratory conditions it is shown to block vitamin D production, however regular use in real life shows little effect on vitamin D levels. This is probably because people who use more sunscreen spend more time in the sun, so naturally they will have higher vitamin D levels.
Use the SunSmart UV Alert or SunSmart app to see if sun protection is needed on any given day for your location.
The map here shows how the amount of sun needed to help with vitamin D levels varies for different parts of Australia.