NHS advice about sun exposure has come into conflict with a Cancer Research UK study.
According to NHS advice, people need 10 to 15 minutes of daily exposure to the sun in the summer months without sunscreen to provide them with the necessary amount of vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones.
However, a new study by the cancer charity shows that some fair-skinned people may not be able to spend this much time in the sun without burning.
The increased risk of skin cancer outweighs any vitamin D benefit, says Cancer Research UK.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, says the body requires at least 60nmol/L of the vitamin, and suggests fair-skinned people may need to take vitamin D supplements to achieve this.
According to some studies, people are at greater risk of heart disease and have lower chances of surviving breast cancer if they have lower levels of vitamin D than this.
Professor Julia Newton-Bishop, lead author of the study, said: “Fair-skinned individuals who burn easily are not able to make enough vitamin D from sunlight and so may need to take vitamin D supplements.
“This should be considered for fair-skinned people living in a mild climate like the UK and melanoma patients in particular.”