Vitamin D is a fat soluble hormone that plays a significant role in bone health and metabolism. Very few foods contain vitamin D, where the major natural source occurs via synthesis in the skin. This process is dependent on adequate sun exposure and more specifically, UVB rays. Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin as it is adequately synthesised in most humans when exposed to the correct sunlight.
Signs You May be Deficient:
- Muscle weakness;
- Bone pain and/or recurring fractures;
- High blood pressure;
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD);
- Excessive fatigue;
Vitamin D and Iron Deficiency
Research also shows that vitamin D levels may increase red blood cells and oxygen in the blood and prevent the development of anaemia (iron deficiency).
Can you get Vitamin D from Your Diet?
The Australian guidelines for Vitamin D are between 200 and 400 IU per day, which is the equivalent to 1kg-2kg of mushrooms per day – Yikes! Other food sources of vitamin D include eggs, tuna and beef but the volume required is very challenging to consume.
Add Some Vitamin D to Your Day
To ensure your vitamin D stores are topped up and maintained as the seasons change, here’s what you need to do:
- Aim for natural sunlight for 10-15 minutes per day, between the hours of 10am and 3pm. This is when UVB rays are present in the greatest amount.
- Don’t go over the top with ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ (unless you have a family history of skin cancer). While we are all for taking care of your skin, the right amount of natural sunlight is important. Follow step 1 above, where optimal absorption will take place with minimal clothing and/or suncream. Please ensure you factor in your current skin tone and avoid getting burnt. If you have very fair skin and a history of minimal sun exposure, please start with 5 minutes per day and increase your duration over three to four weeks.
- If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, periods of darkness, and/or can not get adequate sun exposure between 10am and 3pm, please consider a good quality practitioner grade supplement. The amount required will depend on your blood levels of vitamin D, which you can have tested with your General Practitioner. Optimum levels are greater than 75 nmol/L.