People are being encouraged to get at least 15-20 minutes in the sunshine everyday to boost the amount of vitamin D they produce naturally from now until September.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, adults and children at risk and everyone over the age of 65 are being asked to follow the advice.
Nearly all vitamin D is made in our body from sunlight and it is vital to help the body absorb calcium and help make healthy bones and muscles. Some people are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency and this is of particular concern in the Bradford District, especially for at-risk groups which include:
- All pregnant and breastfeeding women,
- Infants and young children under 5 years of age
- Older people aged 65 years and over
- People who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
- People who have darker skin such as people who are African, African-Caribbean, Middle Eastern or South Asian
The aim is to improve the health of people in the district and reduce the number of children and adults with Vitamin D deficiency.
Shirley Brierley, Consultant in Public Health for Bradford Council, said: “The guidance we are giving is that everyone should aim to get 15 to 20 minutes in the sun without sunscreen between 11am and 3pm everyday.”
“We produce vitamin D in the summer months and store it in our bodies for the winter. If you stay indoors a lot, use sunscreen immediately or wear clothes that cover your skin, this can limit the amount you can produce and affect your health.
“On really hot days, people with fair or sensitive skin might need to be extra careful not to redden their skin.”
Children with darker skin may need longer in the sun without sunscreen to enable their body to make the vitamin D that they need. Babies under 6 months should always be kept out of direct sunlight.
A lack of vitamin D can cause rickets in children as well as cause bone pain and muscle weakness. Over 1,100 children were identified with vitamin D deficiency between 2007-2010 in the Bradford district.
Bradford also currently provides free Vitamin D supplementation through Healthy Start vitamins to all pregnant women, all children under the age of six months, and children considered ‘at risk’ under the age of two. These supplements help to reduce the risk of Vitamin D deficiency and are important but sunshine on a regular basis is a much more effective way of increasing vitamin D levels.
For more information, you can visit NHS choices or visit https://www.bradford.gov.uk/health/improve-your-childs-health/vitamin-d/.