Vitamin D & skin cancer
How to find the right balance
Too much UV exposure causes skin damage and can lead to cancer, while not enough UV exposure puts you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D controls calcium levels in the body and is needed for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. A deficiency can lead to diseases such as rickets or osteoporosis.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- muscle and/or joint pain or weakness;
- bone pain;
- tiredness or fatigue; and
Groups at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
- People with dark skin (as the pigment in dark skin does not absorb as much UV radiation);
- People with little sun exposure, such as those who are housebound or hospitalised, wear concealing clothing or deliberately avoid sun exposure, elderly people, and people whose occupations limit their sun exposure, such as night-shift workers.
- Breast fed babies whose mothers have low vitamin D.
- People with a disability or chronic disease, such as obesity, liver or renal disease, cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.
Vitamin D deficiency is diagnosed with a simple blood test, but having a deficiency does not necessarily mean you need more sun exposure. Your doctor can recommend a dietary supplement instead, to minimise your exposure to dangerous UV radiation.
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