Kiwis get enough vitamin D without deliberately exposing themselves to the midday sun, skin-cancer prevention groups say.
The Cancer Society, Health Sponsorship Council and the Melanoma Foundation have warned sunseekers to avoid deliberately exposing themselves to midday sun after a speaker at a recent health symposium suggested it was a good way to increase vitamin D levels.
Cancer Society health promotion manager Jan Pearson said vitamin D was essential for general health but most New Zealanders got enough "just being out and about" during summer.
"People deficient in vitamin D have the option of taking supplements - this is far safer than being out unprotected, in the midday sun," she said.
Dr Pearson also warned against using sunbeds to boost vitamin D levels: "The intensity of radiation at some wavelengths from some sunbeds is several times higher than the intensity of radiation that occurs in sunlight at the earth's surface. The use of sunbeds increases the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer."
Melanoma Foundation executive director Heather Hyland said New Zealand had more than 250 melanoma deaths a year: "It is important New Zealanders cover up to avoid sunburn, and reduce their melanoma risk."
SunSmart spokesman Wayde Beckman advised those going outside to slip on a shirt or go into the shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat, use broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear sunglasses.