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Vitamin D - are you getting enough?

Sunshine on skin hanging the washing

Recently I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the BioCeuticals Integrative Medicine 6th Research Symposium in Melbourne. It was a jam packed 3 day event with a highly prestigious line-up of guest speakers from around the world whom specialise in Integrative Medicine in various areas including AutoImmune Disease, Children's health - Autism, ADHD, Behavioural Issues, and Childhood Autoimmune to name a few. I came home with a folder bursting full of notes (and also what felt like my brain too!!). One take home message that really stood out to me was how there is a strong correlation world-wide of Vitamin D deficiency presenting in a lot of AutoImmune disease cases, as well as other chronic health conditions. My time in Melbourne gave me a strong first-hand experience of the lifestyle of city dwellers working weekdays - I got in my car at dawn drove an hour to the conference was there until 5pm got home at dark. I did this for 3 days. As well as 2 days travel - I barely saw sunshine for 5 days!!!!! (Eeeeek!! I'm eternally grateful for my sunny Far North Queensland lifestyle let me tell you!!)

This brings me to ask the question - are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluable vitamin and sources include sunlight, fish liver oils, butter, egg yolk, milk and sprouted seeds and mushrooms. There are two forms of Vitamin D - D3 (Cholecalciferal) best sourced from the sunlight and oily fish and Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) also found in foods such as mushrooms. However, D3 is converted 5 times more faster than D2 (vegetable sourced D).

Vitamin D helps the body maintain balance of serum phosphorus and calcium which is vital for bone health. The body can experience increased demand for calcium in various stages in our lives such as, pregnancy, growth spurts, hormonal changes (menopause) and is integral for our immune function. Deficient levels are related and higher amounts of D are needed for the following conditions: muscle weakness, alcoholism, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, elderly, rickets, osteoporosis, increased fracture risk, ulcerative colitis, obesity, multiple sclerosis and breast, prostate, colon and skin cancer (to name a few!).

With winter upon us our serum Vitamin D levels do decline, therefore it is important for our immune health to do our best to squeeze in 15-20 minutes of sunlight daily. Best time of day for safe sunlight exposure is from morning until 2pm. And average of 20 minutes, however dark skinned folks take up to 6 times longer to synthesise the sunshine D and may need slightly longer exposure.

My attached photo is how I try and squeeze in my daily dose of D - hanging the washing, as well as watering the garden, morning walks and eating as much D rich food as we can. This is not possible for everyone, due to different climates and lifestyles, therefore including more Vitamin D3/2 rich foods in your diet and even consider a health assessment for D supplementation from your nearest health practitioner.

Please note: Sunlight exposure is contraindicated in certain medications

ref: Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Leah Hechtman; The Nutrient Bible, Henry Osiecki; Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspectives, Zhang and Declan P Naughton

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