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.[i], [ii]
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. [iii]
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. [iv]
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.[v]
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.[vi]
- For people with dark toned skin - 15-60 minutes in warm months and 20 min – 3 hrs in winter. [vi]
- 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