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19 January 2010 @ 11:10 pm
It's my own fault: I know not to watch television, and I especially know not to watch commercial television news.

But still ... Channel 10 has just ran another 'Australians are short of Vitamin D!' story. Now this in itself is not my problem: there are some parts of Australian society that do have very low levels (generally the elderly and people who simply do not go outside). However, this wasn't how the ads ran nor how the presenter introduced the story.

This is: "There's a new health warning about the sun! Apparently we're not getting enough of it!"

This story has been floating around for the past few years, since a position statement on Australian levels of Vitamin D was published in the Medical Journal of Australia. In it, we read:
Groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency
Older people who are institutionalised or housebound are at a particularly high risk of vitamin D deficiency. For example, up to 80% of women and 70% of men living in hostels or nursing homes in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia were frankly deficient in vitamin D, and 97% had a 25-OHD level below the median value of the healthy reference range.8,9 There also appears to be a significant prevalence of mild vitamin D deficiency in younger adults, particularly during winter.5

Groups for whom low vitamin D levels have been documented include:
* older people in low- and high-level residential care;8-10
* older people admitted to hospital;11
* patients with hip fracture;12,13
* dark-skinned women (particularly if veiled);14-16 and
* mothers of infants with rickets (particularly if dark-skinned and veiled).17
And their solution:
Exposure to sunlight: For people living in Australia and New Zealand, the main source of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. It has been shown that whole body exposure to 10–15 minutes of midday sun in summer (about 1 minimal erythemal dose [MED], or the amount of sun exposure which just produces a faint redness of skin) is comparable to taking 15 000 IU (375 μg) of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) orally.2 On this basis, exposure of hands, face and arms (around 15% of body surface) to around 1/3 MED should produce around 1000 IU of vitamin D (cholecalciferol). The amount of sun exposure to produce 1/3 MED varies with latitude, season, time of day and skin type (Box 1).

It is therefore prudent to expose hands, face and arms to 1/3 MED of sunlight most days. Box 1 shows approximate exposure times for various regions, months and skin types. But there is a caveat: deliberate exposure to sunlight between 10:00 and 14:00 (or 11:00 and 15:00 daylight saving time) in the summer months is not advised. If adequate sunlight exposure to generate sufficient endogenous cholecalciferol is not possible, then a vitamin D supplement of at least 400 IU (10 μg) per day is recommended.
Most of you have never lived in Australia, but let me just say that the above is basically the advice everyone is given here. Stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, get a few minutes on your arms and legs early or late in the day most days. And that is a few minutes, 5-8 in summer, even in Tassie. The only people who need more are dark-skinned people and those who have darker skin and wear the veil.

Happily, I can report that the journalist's actual report was more moderate and differentiated the recommended doses for skin colours and for those who wore more clothing for cultural reason. It also finished with a responsible note, saying that no one was recommending we sunbathe over here, rather that five minutes a day, five times a week, or a vitamin supplement would be ample.

So a gold star to Amber Muir, and a smack to the back of the head to the Channel 10 production team.

In happier news, HAPPY BIRTHDAY lietothedevil  and banbury ! I hope you both have been enjoying yourselves thoroughly!
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on January 19th, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 19th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
Having taken two friends to hospital because they came here for visits and developed second-degree burns after ignoring me on the topic of appropriate beach behaviour, yes.

Oh fuck, I've just flicked over to SBS and they are showing Sicko, I need to step away ...
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on January 19th, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
Fools! Do they not understand that it's not just the wildlife here that can kill you, but the weather (and the flora) as well?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 19th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)
I used to have photos of them which were incorporated in my Introductory Lecture. Alas, lost in one of the last few moves.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 19th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Hello! Hee, I may or may not have replied to that comment yet, because I am habitually rubbish!

And alas, no. Straight down the camera serious. At least I am reasonably sure she wasn't responsible for it as promos that are run in the ads are usually management decisions.
Deborah Henning-Huff: WTFhogwartsvixxxen on January 19th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
*runs to you* How have you been?

HAPPY NEW YEAR Sis. Here's what's been going on and why I've been away.


I also went to the free clinic. I'm on blood pressure medicine and I went to a free Mental Health clinic and talked to a therapist. I start seeing my physicist on the 25. I've been diagnosed as Bi-Polar big surprise for LJ

As far as Vitamin D goes. I'm a Vampire or Insert Sarcasm here Maybe Australian. since they're lacking *shakes head* with my fair skin just a little sun and I look like a lobster. Sunscreen makes me itch.

And their solution
Exposure to sunlight

Next Up on Channel 10 Australians have a higher rate of sun relater skin cancer WTF

taking 15 000 IU (375 μg) of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) orally. This is what I do.

Love You Sis

*clings to you*

Edited at 2010-01-19 02:05 pm (UTC)
Huey: Arthur - OMGphoenixacid on January 19th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
Oh goodness, the heat must already be unbearable without exposing yourself to direct sunlight. O.o
Klara: Nøkken (Norwegian beneath the surface)mummimamma on January 19th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
I thought only people here in the dark north got vitamin D deficit - since we have so little daylight in winter (and have to put on so much clothes when we go outside!). That people in sunny parts of the world get it sounds just weird. But I have heard about veiled women in other sunny parts of the world having a deficit of vitamin D, so I shouldn't be that surprised.
Fat fish and cod liver oil is what keeps me going in winter.
bibliofilenbibliofilen on January 19th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
The very thing I planned to write, and fat fish like salmon, herring or mackerel can provide you with vitamin D if you don't get enough sunlight.
spark_of_chaosspark_of_chaos on January 19th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Dude, ten to fifteen minutes face and hands exposure a day for elderly people in winter is the guideline *here*.
suonguyensuonguyen on January 19th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Ahh, that's why we have Vitamin D tablets for hospitalized elderlies. Hehe. :D
Kilian Ruadh: Toga Iconms_kilian on January 20th, 2010 02:16 am (UTC)
Thank you
What a useful synopsis! I have concluded that my usual half hour walk to and from work, with exposed arms, walking in light, shade and partial shade should mean I get enough vit D on the whole.
LadyDark1 ~ A  Harry and Draco Slash Addict.Periodldydark1 on January 20th, 2010 05:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing, I read this with interest.
I love the sun, but am very fair skinned.
I have to be very careful of it.
Had basal cell skin cancer x 2.
dylansbuzzdylansbuzz on January 20th, 2010 06:14 am (UTC)
I live in Maine, USA (lobsters, taxes and the elderly are our main products - we export the lobsters and elderly to Florida and keep the taxes)and we're told to dose the hell out of ourselves with Vitamin D to stave off SAD in the winter months.

*looks out at 13 inches of snow*

My MIL swears it works, though she's a die-hard sun worshipper and looks it.
It's that Bucket woman!curia_regis on January 20th, 2010 08:00 am (UTC)
My doctor told me to get 15 mins of midday sun per day without sunscreen with short sleeves. I just take Vitamin D supplements instead.
grey_hunter on January 20th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
Did it also have colour samples where you could put your hand on the screen to compare skin colours and thus determine the necessary time of daily exposure? *curious*

In the future, this programme will ask you to stand in front of the TV screen, read your vitamine level through spectral analysis or whatever, and then tell you to close your eyes and give you a concentrated dose of artificial sunlight to bring your D vitamin to level. :P
january b. snow: smilebanbury on January 24th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you! Hope you enjoy yourself as well :-)
Our friends have been to Australia last December and returned thoroughly charmed by your country. They visited us on holidays and told a lot of stories about their journey.