As researchers in sunlight and vitamin D, we welcome the advice by Professor Steve Jones to “get out in the sun” and to take vitamin D supplements when there is not enough sun (Scientist urges people to take vitamin D, 27 May). Levels of vitamin D deficiency are high in the UK, and this is likely to impact on the nation’s long-term bone health, with an increase in childhood rickets and adult bone disease. Vitamin D cannot be easily obtained from diet, so sunlight and supplements are the main options to address deficiencies. Our research provides more context and detail on this: daily sunlight exposure for just 10-15 minutes in the middle of the day (25 minutes for people with darker skin) during the spring and summer months should provide sufficient vitamin D to avoid vitamin D deficiency all year round. For most people, this will be a safe level of exposure. Exposing lower arms and legs during warm weather will further optimise a good supply of vitamin D. We agree with Professor Jones’s message to “get out in the sun”, and highlight that low levels of exposure are all that are required, minimising risks of skin cancer.
Professor Ann Webb, Professor Lesley Rhodes University of Manchester