What does Vitamin D do for health?
Vitamin D is best known for its role in building healthy bones and teeth, because it helps your body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D contributes to muscle strength and a deficiency can impact on bone health and can lead to osteoporosis. Recent research suggests that vitamin D may also have benefits in supporting the immune system, helping maintain healthy skin and muscle strength.
Doesn’t the sun help us get Vitamin D?
Yes. Our skin can make vitamin D when we spend time in the sun – but we need to spend at least 5 minutes with some skin exposed to the sun on most days for this to occur. In the winter months it should be longer e.g. 15 minutes as the UV index is generally lower. Clothing and sunscreen stop the sun from being able to do its work, so wear short sleeves, roll up your trousers and avoid sunscreen for this short time each day. UV rays do not penetrate through glass, so it is no good sitting at the window indoors. Getting enough time in the sun is as simple as walking from your offce to get lunch, hanging clothes on the line, or chatting to a neighbour outdoors for a few minutes. To avoid getting sunburnt make sure that you avoid the sun in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest.
Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?
People who spend a lot of time indoors or are confned to chairs or bed such as the frail aged may be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Studies have found that nearly one-third of adults in Australia have vitamin D deficiency, and this rate is higher at the end of winter, and in southern parts of Australia.
Can I get Vitamin D from food?
Vitamin D is only found in a few foods – it occurs naturally in eggs (the yolk part) and oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. In Australia margarine has added Vitamin D, but generally we don’t get enough vitamin D from our diet alone.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D status, speak to a health care professional such as your GP or dietitian