The vitamin 73% of Australian adults are deficient in.
Australia may be a sunburnt country, but we’re part of a global trend that is affecting our health: Vitamin D deficiency.
In Australia, an estimated 73% of adults suffer from inadequate vitamin D levels, with almost 60% of women in southern areas being completely deficient during the winter/spring months.
Why do you need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin naturally made by the body from the sun’s UVB waves. It is most commonly known for keeping your bones healthy and preventing osteoporosis, but it actually plays a much bigger role.
Almost every tissue and cell-type in the body has receptors for Vitamin D. Here are just a few of the roles it plays:
- It helps improve immunity; reducing the instances of colds and flus
- It helps to manage more serious autoimmune conditions.
- It also improves muscle strength
- Can reduce fractures in the elderly
It can support healthy moods and is helpful in treating depression. Vitamin D deficiency could well contribute to the incidence of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), where you may be prone to low moods or depression during the winter months.
Low levels of Vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
How do you get it?
The most natural way to achieve optimal Vitamin D levels is through healthy sun exposure – but this does not mean going out in the hottest part of the day. Instead, aim for 6 to 7 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon during warmer months, and 7 to 40 minutes at noon during winter. Your arms and shoulders should be visible and without sunscreen. Be aware that UV levels are highest between 11am and 3pm so be cautious about going out uncovered for longer than this.
If you are unable to get out in the sun (or you wish to avoid it), there are limited dietary sources of Vitamin D. These include oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms.
However, you might find it more appropriate for your lifestyle to take a high-quality Vitamin D supplement.
Achieving Optimal D Levels
The first step to achieving optimal Vitamin D levels is to get tested by your naturopath or GP. While less than 50 nmol/L is considered deficient, most GPs aim for an optimum level of 80 nmol/L. From a naturopathic point of view, we recommend an optimum range of 100-120 nmol/L – higher if you have MS or a pre-existing autoimmune condition.
From your blood test results, your naturopath will help you determine your ideal Vitamin D level and the supplements you need to take to reach it.
From my own experience and from talking with our other naturopaths David and Kirsty, Vitamin D deficiency is something that we are now seeing regularly in our practice. I believe correcting Vitamin D levels may be one of the best steps you can take to long-term preventative healthcare. If you have any questions about Vitamin D, please leave them in the comments section below or call us on (02) 4961 4075.
Yours in health,
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