November 7, 2012

The Vitamin D Affair

We are a nation of sunshine, everyone thinks of Australia as a sunny country, where we are all lazin’ on our beaches and looking tanned and healthy. However this is not the case – whenever I go to another country everyone is tanned and enjoying the sun. Australians have become scared of the sun, we are told to slip/slop/slap; we’re told that the sun causes cancer, we are told to wear hats, cover up, sit in the shade. It is now coming back to haunt us, we in Australia are facing Vitamin D deficiency and nearly everyone is supplementing.

Vitamin D and lack of it has been a big concern of mine for a long time, it comes from the sun and synthesises in our skin to then be processed in our liver. It aids Calcium assisting bone density and bone structure. But apparently, we here in Australia are starting to have proportions of deficiency especially in children and older people because of our avoidance of the sun! Too much slip, slop, slapping so to speak.

The major benefit of Vitamin D is bone health it helps our bones stay strong and stable holding us up and enabling us to move. It’s also known to help aid and support our immune system, studies indicate higher levels of Vitamin D in our blood supply can help ward off the common cold in winter, help prevent cancers, help our moods, balance our hormones and make us feel happier.

Food sources are generally low in this vitamin. The richest sources of vitamin D include fatty fishes such as mackerel, herring, cod and tuna and of course Cod liver oil. The skin of fish and chicken also has some supplies of Vitamin D (if they have been growing in the sun)- but we are encouraged not to eat this because of the high fat content, let yourself go and enjoy some flavor. Eat til your heart is content! Often Milk and milk products are fortified so these are also good sources.

Sun is the best source of Vitamin D yet absorption of the special UVB rays only occur 8 months of the year (no Winter vitamin D) and to get the best absorption experts say you must be in the sun for up to 15minutes between the hours of 11-3 (scary hey). However, over the years we have been encouraged not to go out in it. Now I am certainly not saying to go out and bake in it everyday for hours at a time but we need some sun, preferably 15 minutes a day, and you need to expose more than just your face, as your face is only 9% of your skin coverage, get you back, arms and legs out. Enjoy that summer sun.

Tip: Vitamin D absorbed from the sun lasts up to 3 times longer in your body stores than that taken via a supplement! 

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