Recently vitamin D has been receiving more and more attention regarding how it impacts overall health and may be useful in the prevention of certain conditions as well as improving performance. A wide range of purported benefits!
Too good to be true? Let’s look at Vitamin D in depth, keeping in mind the body can obtains it via 2 sources: food and sunlight.
We have always known the link between vitamin D and bone health in females, but the mainstream media is picking up a lot of recent published studies along with an increasingly common trend to believe that insufficient vitamin D in modern sun-phobic societies is behind a whole range of chronic diseases, and noting that current recommended intakes are far below the levels some experts believe are necessary.
What does Vitamin D do for us?
Vitamin D is related to health through the following processes:
Inflammation system regulation
Low levels of vitamin D may lead to various conditions that include:
An elevated risk of developing (and dying from) cancers of the colon , breast and prostate
High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
Immune-system abnormalities that may result in disorders like multiple sclerosis
Type 1 diabetes
Sources of Vitamin D
The goal is to acquire a part of vitamin D per day from your food. The best choices include:
Wild-caught oily fish (e.g. mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna)
Fortified milk, fortified orange juice
Vitamin D conversion comes mainly from sunlight and happens around mid-day when the sun is highest overhead. It is specifically from the ultraviolet-B rays, absorbed through the skin, that are the body’s main source of this nutrient. In winter especially, Many people are out in the morning or evening in low light levels, but not as much during the mid-day hours, people in the modern world have lifestyles that may impact on them from acquiring the levels of vitamin D that evolution intended us to have.
Also, depending on the region you live vitamin D conversion during the winter months may be severely limited (e.g., latitudes above or below 35–37 degrees north or south have no conversion). Early humans evolved near the equator, where sun exposure is intense year round, and minimally clothed people spent most of the day outdoors. But if you make enough vitamin D in your skin in summer, it can meet the body’s needs for the rest of the year.
How Much Sun is Needed?
Anywhere from 5–30 min per day of sun exposure is suggested and this depends on various factors.
The lighter the skin colour one has, the less time is needed in the sun to absorb vitamin D; the darker the skin colour one has requires a longer exposure time for optimal conversion. But the less sun exposure, the darker a person’s skin and the more sunscreen used, the less vitamin D is formed.
In looking for a general recommendation, evidence suggests going outside in summer unprotected by sunscreen (except for the face, which should always be protected) wearing minimal clothing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. two or three times a week for 5 to 10 minutes. Note: sunscreen with an SPF of 30 will reduce exposure by 95 to 98 percent
Recommended intake of vitamin D
Current established by the Institute of Medicine, measured in International Units
200 I.U. a day children to age 50
400 for adults aged 50 to 70
600 for those older than 70
While a revision upward of these amounts is in the works, studies continue to refine optimal blood levels and recommended dietary amounts, The new guidelines settle around daily levels of 400 to 1000 IU for healthy adults under age 50. For adults over 50, between 800 and 2000 IU are recommended.
Can I just pop a pill?
Vitamins are designed to be consumed as part of the intake of a wide variety of good quality food sources and food choices we should be making. Granted sometimes it is difficult to achieve some times in life. It is times like these, when the body is lacking something it needs that you can supplement it. The key word is vitamin tablets are party of the broad range of “dietary supplements”. If you have educated advice your Vitamin D is low and food intake or sunlight conversion will not raise it to the required level then the medical advice will be to supplement it. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for, so my advice is to buy good quality vitamins. You generally find the best quality products are available at pharmacies more so than supermarkets, especially the smaller grocery stores with limited shelf space. Always check the use by date on the container as they may be stored for long periods before on sale. And read if it is better for the product life to store in the fridge once the seal is opened.
Does not matter if you are a female or male; it is Not Just a “Female” Bone Issue
Seek to gain some of your vitamin D per day through food
5– 15 min of sunlight per day depending on skin colour and living location
Always protect the face from sun exposure
Know your current vitamin D levels to understand if you are not at optimal levels
The potential consequences of this deficiency are likely to go far beyond inadequate bone development and excessive bone loss that can result in falls and fractures. There is plenty of evidence that vitamin D deficiency will impair physical performance. As a result, anyone who is at all interested in being healthy, should be very aware of their vitamin D needs and levels.
Always see a medical professional for further advice specific to you
Continue being “sun smart” in the harsh Australian conditions, just be aware in (southern states) winter of the importance direct sunlight can have on health and wellbeing.