Vitamin D shines bright for immune health
We live in the sunburnt country so it’s perhaps ironic that up to three in 10 Aussies are deficient in the ‘sunlight vitamin’- Vitamin D.
One NSW study found that 62 percent of females were Vitamin D deficient during the spring months.1,2
Many people avoid the sun these days due to the risk of skin cancers but our body actually needs small amounts of direct sun exposure to create Vitamin D and avoid deficiency.
The role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for your health including healthy bones and particularly our immune function.3
It may help to ward off respiratory infections associated with colds and flus and reduce the risks of allergic and autoimmune conditions.
A major international analysis found Vitamin D supplementation can help protect against respiratory infections. Researchers found daily or weekly supplementation cuts the risk of respiratory infection in half.4
A variety of autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis, have been associated with Vitamin D deficiency.
If you suffer from psoriasis, studies have shown that using Vitamin D ointments is as effective as low-medium strength corticosteroid creams in managing the condition.5
Other autoimmune diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and inflammatory bowel diseases.
The multi functions of Vitamin D
When your skin is exposed to the sun, it produces Vitamin D and sends it to your liver for use by the rest of the body. Eating foods containing Vitamin D or using supplements can help boost daily levels.
Vitamin D benefits the muscles, cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, immune system and brain development.
Vitamin D helps us absorb other minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Even if you eat foods containing a lot of calcium and phosphorus, without enough Vitamin D, you can’t absorb them into your body.
Simple ways to boost Vitamin D
The most natural way to get Vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays).
- Just a small amount of direct exposure is needed – avoiding the middle of the day when UV levels are highest.
- The more skin you expose the more Vitamin D is produced.
- If you have fair to moderate toned skin – 5-10 minutes in warmer months and 7-30 minutes in winter.6
- For people with dark toned skin - 15-60 minutes in warm months and 20 min – 3 hrs in winter.6
- Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, tuna and cod.
- Butter, eggs and foods that have been fortified with Vitamin D
- Vitamin D supplements are also available to help you boost your Vitamin D levels if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Ask your health practitioner about dietary changes and if Vitamin D supplements may be helpful for you. Your doctor may recommend testing your levels. Remember – vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
References available on request