The 'Sunshine' Vitamin
Vitamin D is a HOT topic! We all know vitamin D is great for us and that our main natural source is through the sun’s rays, but what are the true benefits of having adequate vitamin D levels and how can we find the right balance?
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vit D helps support bone health as the vitamin helps to absorb calcium. It also plays an important role in supporting growth and maintenance of our bones and regulating calcium levels in the blood.
Adequate vitamin D levels are somewhat of a balancing act. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) is the best natural source, but you need to be mindful of avoiding sun damage while getting your fix.
Are you getting enough vitamin D?
We now know why we need vitamin D, but do we get enough? Are you someone who does shift work and rarely sees the sunlight? Do you work 9-5 and rarely step out of the office for a lunch/sun break? Do you avoid being in the sun due to sensitive skin?
Unfortunately, according to Osteoporosis Australia 30% of Australians are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D levels also change naturally throughout the seasons. How much sun UV exposure we need depends on the time of year, skin type and amount of skin exposed. We generally receive enough vitamin D in summer because we naturally spend more time outdoors. During these months, most Australians need just a few minutes of sun exposure mid-morning or mid-afternoon to receive adequate vitamin D levels (don’t forget to slip, slop, slap). In winter, longer exposure times are needed preferably around midday and if the UV index is below 3 then sun protection isn’t needed.
Fortunately, food and supplements can assist when your access to the sun is limited. Pairing vitamin D with calcium ensures efficient absorption. Foods which already have this combination include canned salmon and fortified milk. Most store bought supplements already include sources of vitamin D, such as Swisse Ultiboost Calcium + Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency does not always have obvious symptoms! Those at a greater risk of a vitamin D deficiency can include people who spend daylight hours indoors, have naturally dark skin (higher amount of melanin), or are taking a medication that affects natural metabolism of vitamin D.
So, go out into the sunshine (sensibly!) and smile, it’s good for you and your teeth! Overexposure to UV is never recommended, even for people who have vitamin D deficiency.
If you think you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your GP for advice.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.