Health experts have suggested that going out in the midday sun without sunscreen is good for you.
Contrary to previous warnings over the dangers of spending time in the sun when it is at its strongest, the latest advice recommends ten to 15 minutes` exposure to help boost vitamin D levels.
The change of opinion comes amid concern that people may not be getting optimal levels of vitamin D – around 90 per cent of the body`s supply comes from the action of sunlight on the skin.
Experts have long warned the risk of skin cancer from UV rays outweighs any potential good.
However, the latest advice from a range of health charities have said exposure to the sun at midday during summer months can help build a store of the essential vitamin.
And it reverses warnings about using suntan cream with a high sun protection factor before going outside and avoiding exposure between 10am and 2pm.
Experts have reacted in response to the growing number of children developing rickets, which is caused by lack of vitamin D.
Deficiency has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and several cancers, as well as bone softening in adults.
According to a consensus statement from seven charities and professional bodies, in the summer people should expose their face, arms and legs for ten to 15 minutes, three times a week.
It is best done around noon, when the sun`s UVB rays are most effective at synthesising vitamin D.
"The public has been seriously misled by advice to avoid the sun," a newspaper quoted Oliver Gillie, who runs Health Research Forum, as saying.