I have spent just over 10 days in Melbourne and it is fair to say I am exhausted. Not only am I busy with work and catching up with friends, I am struggling mentally to keep on the ball, I am not my usual self and I just couldn’t figure out why… That was until it hit me, I am not getting my all important Vitamin D Medication… AKA sunshine!
Approximately 58% of all Australian’s are actually Vitamin D deficient. What’s to blame? Unfortunately recent marketing campaigns instructing us to reduce our sun exposure have been almost too successful, we now associate sunshine with skin cancer and avoid our all important natural medication. Pair this with our extended hours working indoors and indoor recreation, we are seeing a rise in health problems associated with the lack of Vitamin D across the country.
Why we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin at all: It’s a hormone, made by your body as you are exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D has been known to provide support for systems and functions of your body including:
- strong and healthy bones
- heart health
- athletic performance
- eye health
- immune health
- mood and feelings of well-being
- weight management (yep, vitamin d tells your body winter is over and helps move that fat stored during hibernation – a survival mechanism we used in primitive times)
- respiratory health
- reproductive health
- food digestion….. and the research is still growing!
Deficiency in Vitamin D can cause brittle bones and has also been linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as diseases such as cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Potential problems with supplementation
According to findings discussed in the Sydney Morning Herald (October 2012), Studies looking at the benefits of vitamin D supplementation have been largely inconsistent. One British study, in the October issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, has found vitamin D supplements do not protect against cardiovascular disease, while other recent studies have found too much supplementation could increase inflammation in the body.
So how do we top up our stores? Indulge in the free stuff!
Australians are spending around $100 million a year on vitamin D testing and the sales of the supplement are soaring. According to some reports, Vitamin D supplementation sales are worth more than $150 million a year in Australia alone! Not to mention the drive for increased calcium consumption via supplementation. Ladies (and Gentlemen) if you’re vitamin D deficient, your ability to absorb that calcium is impaired and it’s possible that those expensive supplements will just pass through your system. So what do we do? Address your Vitamin D levels via he most perfect, pure and natural form… sunshine!
How much is too much?
Approximately 10-15 minutes of direct sun-exposure a day is optimal in Australia however, this will change depending on the colour of your skin (lighter coloured skin requires less time than darker coloured skin) as well as throughout the seasons (you will require less during summer than winter). A individual good gauge is to spend half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink in direct sunlight per day. This means I am not suggesting we spend hours on end, baking ourselves to a crisp, you should never aim to get burnt. I’m simply suggesting taking 10-15 minutes of each lunch break to step outside of the office and soak up the sunshine as nature intended. You may even find the fresh-air will do you good.
Be responsible with your sun exposure and enjoy the benefits.
Other great sources of Vitamin D:
During the winter months, sunshine can be hard to come by for some people. As such, the following REAL foods are great sources of Vitamin D: