“Where the bloody hell are you?” Was a great Aussie TV slogan for Queensland, the Australian state known for lots of sun and beautiful beaches.
With vitamin D readily available from the sun, why are so many people deficient in this important vitamin?
An estimated 73% of adults suffer from low vitamin D levels, with almost 60% of women living in southern areas being completely deficient during the winter/spring months. Are we spending too much more time indoors? Are we obsessed with the need to cover up and use sunscreen every time we step outside? Are we working too hard, on our computers in offices or just too scared to get the sun on our skin?
With so many factors influencing vitamin D, what can you do to ensure you have adequate vitamin D levels?
Delving Into Vitamin D: Sources of Vitamin D and Benefits
- Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin naturally derived from UVB waves from the sun.
- Dietary sources are limited and include oily fish and egg yolks.
- Vitamin D is well known for its role in maintaining the health of bones and improving calcium absorption; but D is so much more than this! It helps improve immunity; reducing the frequency of colds and flus, and managing more serious autoimmune conditions.
- Vitamin D also improves muscle strength and can reduce fractures in the elderly.
- Did you realise that low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes? Vitamin D may even help support healthy moods and is a beneficial part of the treatment for depression.
Vitamin D Deficiency Is Widespread
It may be quite alarming to find out that so many of your family, friends and others in your community may be suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. With our main source of vitamin D coming from sunlight, keep a special eye out for those you know who may be at greater risk of deficiency. They include people who are older, housebound, darker skinned individuals, and those who wear covered clothes, work indoors or regularly avoid sun exposure. You also need to keep in mind where you live, your climates and the seasons. It may be harder to get adequate vitamin D from the sun at certain latitudes and in southern areas where UV levels are lower.
During the colder months, you may need to spend more time outdoors to obtain vitamin D; compared to summertime, when several minutes of sun exposure daily may be sufficient. With our position under the hole in the ozone layer, getting the sun exposure required for optimal vitamin D synthesis may present risks to skin health.
Not All Vitamin Ds are the Same
With many different types of vitamin D available, you may be mistaken in thinking that they are all alike. However, not all products are equal!
Being a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D is prone to oxidisation and deterioration, so it is important to use a high quality vitamin D with proven stability. Your Practitioner will help you select the most appropriate vitamin D for your needs, in a form that is readily available for your body to absorb.
Recommendations for Achieving Optimal Vitamin D Levels
- If getting sun exposure, aim for 6 to 7 minutes midmorning or mid-afternoon during warmer months, and 7 to 40 minutes at noon during winter; arms and shoulders should be visible, and without sunscreen. Be aware that UV levels are highest between 11am and 3pm so be cautious going out uncovered for longer than this.
- If you know you are low in vitamin D and you wish to avoid the sun, it may be more appropriate to correct a deficiency with a supplement to quickly and safely build up your vitamin D stores.
- If you’re unsure about your current vitamin D levels, ask your Practitioner about how to get your levels assessed.
Make it a priority to build up your vitamin D stores with a high quality supplement and/or a healthy dose of sun exposure, and take another step closer to great health!
Also Read: Side effects of Iron Overload