Have you ever wondered what all the hype is about Vitamin D and why it's so important for your health? Maybe you have had your levels tested and they were low, and you are thinking "But I'm always out in the sun".
The Australian Bureau of Statistics report that 1 in 4 Australians are deficient in Vitamin D3. If you live in the southern states that figure is higher and is less if you live in the northern states. Makes sense - less sun in the South, more in the North.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient required by your body for a wide range of different jobs, such as supporting your immune system so you are less likely to catch colds and flu's, playing a role in your moods, helping you feel good and supporting your physical structure - by making your bones and muscles stronger.
So what exactly is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the most complex and fascinating vitamins that our body needs. The ways that our body gets Vitamin D and subsequently metabolises this substance is truly unique.
Aptly called the Sunshine Vitamin, sunlight initially triggers our body to produce Vitamin D in the skin. Thereafter, Vitamin D undergoes complicated metabolic processes in the kidneys and liver to turn into its active form, cholecalciferol. This amazing vitamin is actually a hormone and there are receptors for it on every cell in our body, making its functions amazingly varied and numerous.
What foods contain Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is found predominantly in animal based products such as oily fish like tuna and salmon, egg yolk and beef liver.
Delving into D
Vitamin D deficiency may have negative effects on your health and prevent you from looking and feeling your best. To optimise your health and make sure you are getting plenty, here are 12 signs, symptoms and risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency so you can take action if they apply to you.
1. It's Winter and you live in the Southern states - Victoria, Tasmania, Southern NSW and South Australia.
2. Achy bones - Vitamin D improves the strength of your bones by up-regulating the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, two minerals critical for bone health.
3. You have gut issues and poor nutrient absorption - Vitamin D has one gateway into your body and this is the gut.
4. Muscle fatigue - Not feeling as strong as you should be. Vitamin D is essential to help your muscles maintain strength which is essential for all daily activities.
5. You've got 'The Blue's' - When we visually perceive sunlight, receptors in our eyes trigger the brain to produce serotonin, which is often called the "Happiness Hormone"
6. Following a strictly vegan diet - Dietary Vitamin D is obtained via animal sources, restriction through diet can cause Vitamin D deficiency.
7. Catching every cold and flu - Our immune cells contain Vitamin D, demonstrating that Vitamin D exerts some level of influence over our immunity.
8. You spend a lot of time indoors - This will naturally reduce your exposure to sunlight, contributing to Vitamin D deficiency.
9. You cover up when outside - Sunscreen and long sleeve clothes prevent the sun triggering Vitamin D synthesis in our body, bare skin is required for this.
10. Your BMI is greater than 30 - If you are overweight, Vitamin D is absorbed by fat cells making it harder to enter your blood stream and circulate to where it is most needed.
11. Your skin is naturally dark - A pigment called Melanin is responsible for darkening the colour of our skin. Melanin is a natural sun blocker and impairs our skins production of Vitamin D with sunlight.
12. You've had 70 birthdays or more - People over the age of 70 are able to make about 1/3 less Vitamin D than younger people after sitting in the sun.
How to stay safe in the sun and still get your Vitamin D fix!
The ideal level of sun exposure to aim for in order to support Vitamin D is 6-7 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon during warmer months, and 7-40 minutes at noon during the winter months.
Arms and shoulders should be visible and without sunscreen.
Protect your face due to the delicate skin and if you have a history of skin cancer then it is best to take a supplement.
Have a chat to me to make it a priority to build up your Vitamin D stores with a high quality supplement and sensible sun exposure, and take another step closer to optimal health.