UK osteoporosis charity advises us to get more sun

The summer weather in the UK has been a bit stop-start, though personally I am delighted that the last couple of days at least have been very much ‘start’ as far as sunshine is concerned. So, perhaps with perfect timing, the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) here in the UK has just highlighted the value of sunlight for bone health. Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production in the skin, and this nutrient is key for the formation of healthy bones. The NOS conducted a poll which shows that the great majority of men and women polled believe that sunscreen should be applied before going out in the sun in the UK. The risk here is that this may reduce vitamin D production, which may reflect on bone health in the long term. The NOS is encouraging us to be aware of the benefits of sunshine, as well as the risks.

Personally, I welcome this message whole-heartedly: it is good to see an official organisation giving what looks likes balanced and objective advice that runs a little counter to the usual scare stories we hear regarding the supposed perils of sunlight. It should be perhaps borne in mind that vitamin D is not only important for bone health in adults, but children too. It wasn’t so long ago that doctors were warning here in the UK of a resurgence in the childhood bone condition rickets, which is caused by vitamin D deficiency.

While the NOS’s intentions appear to be focused on bone health, their advice for individuals to get some sensible sunlight exposure may reap dividends in other areas too. Earlier this year I discussed some research which supports the idea that sunlight exposure may be an important factor in the prevention of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and several forms of cancer. I’m hoping the NOS’s message gets the coverage it deserves: it’s likely that many of us could be significantly healthier for acting on it.

5 Responses to UK osteoporosis charity advises us to get more sun

  1. Cindy Moore 21 July 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    “the great majority of men and women polled believe that sunscreen should be applied before going out in the sun in the UK. ”

    This is exactly what is promoted here in the states. A few months back some group (osteoporosis group I believe) came out with recommendations for sun exposure and the dermatologist went NUTS!!! The feeling is that no one should be outside without sunscreen! Even if driving in your car, just going from house to car and car to work, etc.

    I know so many people that use makeup with sunscreen, lotion with sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen on a daily basis!

  2. Cybertiger 23 July 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    The BMJ have just published a relevant Head to Head discussion. While you are strengthening your bones in the sunshine are you risking an early death from malignant melanoma?

    Is sun exposure a major cause of melanoma?

    No. Sam Shuster

    Yes. Scott Menzies

  3. Brian 25 July 2008 at 8:23 pm #

    This ties in with the ideas in the book ” The Calcium Diet” by Cedric Garland.

  4. Hilda 26 July 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    Maybe darker skinned peole NEED more sun but fairer, red haired people do not. People from very cold climates perhaps are programmed to need less vitamin D or make it more easily in order to compensate. Or is it just light rather than sun which is important.

  5. helen 27 July 2008 at 10:29 pm #

    All this demonising of natural things like sunshine & saturated fat etc is not the smartest thing these so called experts have ever done. Still I suppose they will see the light one day.

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