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Catch winter sun for dose of vitamin D
Catch winter sun for dose of vitamin D

West Australians long-advised to stay out of the sun to prevent skin cancer are being told for the first time to catch some winter rays without the slip-slop-slap.

The new advice follows a meeting of scientists and public health experts in Perth late last year to discuss concerns people were missing out on vitamin D, which is needed for bone and muscle development and to prevent osteoporosis.

Guidelines for people living in Perth and southern parts of the State now recommend 30 minutes of sun exposure, close to midday, on most days during June and July.

Experts say sun protection is generally not needed because the UV index is usually below three.

Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry Slevin said he hoped the new guidelines would reduce confusion around the issue of vitamin D deficiency versus skin cancer risk.

"We brought the top experts on vitamin D from around the nation together to examine sun exposure in WA," Mr Slevin said.

"Their recommendations should give us all confidence that we've struck the right balance between sun exposure and sun protection.

"At other times of the year, Western Australians can get enough vitamin D through incidental sun exposure in their day-to-day activities so the focus needs to be on sun protection."

No change was recommended for people living north of Perth who need to be sun safe all year.

A free SunSmart smartphone app features a vitamin D tracker that allows people to find out if they are getting enough sun to help with vitamin D levels and alerts them to their daily sun protection needs.

Guildford mother-of-three Jodi Dodd said though she was careful about sun protection in warmer months, she would enjoy being able to spend time outside without having to cover up.

"We have a pool so we do the sunscreen, hats and rashies in summer but it's nice to be able to take the kids outside, as they are, for a play in the colder months," she said.

The app and information on vitamin D are available at www.sun smart.com.au.