How much UV exposure a person needs depends on the time of year, UV levels, skin type and whether or not they are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D levels can vary naturally throughout the seasons. During winter when UV levels are lower and most people are more likely to cover up and spend more time indoors, vitamin D levels will also be lower. In summer, UV levels are high and people are more likely to be active outdoors, so most people's vitamin D levels will also increase.
The body can only store a limited amount of vitamin D at a time. Once a person has received enough UV exposure, spending more time in the sun won't increase vitamin D levels any more – but will increase the risk of skin cancer.
May to August in Victoria
From May to August in Victoria, sun protection is not recommended.
UV levels are lower so people are encouraged to be outdoors around midday each day, with some skin uncovered. Being physically active outdoors will also help the body to make vitamin D.
People who work outdoors for long periods of time may need sun protection all year, as they are at an increased risk of skin cancer.
At this time of year, sun protection is also recommended if you are near reflective surfaces (such as snow) or if UV levels reach 3 or higher.
September to April in Victoria
From September to April in Victoria, UV levels regularly reach 3 or higher. This is high enough to damage unprotected skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. At this time of year, all Victorians should Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide during the daily sun protection times.
Most people make enough vitamin D in summer because UV levels are high and more time is spent outdoors. During these months, most Victorians need just a few minutes of mid-morning or mid-afternoon sun exposure for their vitamin D needs, and should be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.
People who may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency should talk to their doctor to determine if vitamin D supplementation, rather than sun exposure, is appropriate.
Use the free SunSmart app to help remind you when you do and don't need sun protection each day.