Queensland shines ahead of states on vitamin D levels

Queensland has the lowest rate of vitamin D deficiency nationally, dispelling the common concern that we don’t get enough sunshine in winter.

The latest Australian Health Survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 94 per cent of the Queensland population have adequate vitamin D levels during summer and 85 per cent of the population maintain adequate vitamin D during winter, compared with deficiency rates as high as 49 per cent in some states.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was a major misconception that most Queenslanders were vitamin D deficient and needed sun exposure to boost their levels.

“Based on current evidence we know that the majority of Queenslanders only need a few minutes of sun exposure on most days, even in winter, for sufficient levels of vitamin D,” Ms Clift said.

“This exposure should occur before 10am or after 2pm.

“Exposure to harmful UV radiation between 10am and 2pm even during winter in Queensland can significantly increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.

“Those at highest risk of vitamin D deficiency are older adults, people who get limited sun exposure, those with dark skin, and people with obesity.

“Queenslanders only need a small amount of sun exposure to receive adequate vitamin D, and most people get it through incidental exposure – putting clothes on the washing line, or walking to collect the mail.

“We encourage the state to stay SunSmart and continue these trends.”

The Australian Health Survey also showed physically active people and non-smokers were less likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.

“Moving more and quitting smoking will benefit your health, along with reducing your risk of a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers,” Ms Clift said.

A small amount of vitamin D can also be obtained through dietary intake, through foods such as oily fish (salmon and tuna), cod liver oil, milk, eggs, sardines and swiss cheese.

Queenslanders with any questions about vitamin D intake should contact their GP.

Sun protection is required when the UV Index is three and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is three and above all year round, so Cancer Council Queensland encourages sun protection through every season.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171