Despite living in Australia, a large chunk of the Australian population have sub-par Vitamin D levels. In fact, approximately 25% of the Australian population are classified as Vitamin D deficient. Deficiency of Vitamin D is a global health issue– with more than one billion children and adults being deficient! And how do we get most of our Vitamin D? You guessed it, the SUN. What is the big deal? Among its many roles, Vitamin D is particularly essential for;
Immune health - Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating the immune response, particularly enhancing the immune system’s response to both bacterial and viral agents. Vitamin D can protect against influenza and other Winter respiratory illnesses and reduce wheezing in children. Vitamin D supports both innate (natural) and acquired (developed) immunity, helping modulate and regulate the function of our entire immune system, including autoimmunity.
Mental health - Vitamin D helps relieve anxiety/depression and OCD, conditions that are becoming more and more prevalent. This is due to the hormonal action of Vitamin D, and its role in the production of cortisol, serotonin, oestrogen & thyroid hormones. Studies have shown population groups with lower levels of Vitamin D are at the highest risk of developing depression, i.e. the elderly, adolescents, obese individuals, and those with chronic illnesses. One particular study conducted in Malaysia, showed Vitamin D deficient women were more likely to be depressed and had poorer mental health-related quality of life.
Vitamin D also plays a critical role in; skin health, conception, pregnancy & breastfeeding, and bone health.
The good news? Checking your Vitamin D levels can be conducted via a simple blood test! As Naturopathic practitioners, we want to see our patient’s serum Vitamin D levels THRIVING (above 100 nmol/L). We can correct any deficiencies/ sub-optimal levels via supplementation if necessary, sunshine exposure of course and Vitamin D rich foods. Keep in mind; we obtain approximately 80% of our Vitamin D from the sun, and 20% from food sources (think egg yolk, fish, beef liver and cheese).
Post treatment, if we don’t see much of an improvement in a patient's Vitamin D levels, there may be other factors needing evaluation, in particular gut health!
Some of our top tips for staying safe in the sun;
Avoid any reddening of the skin - this either means only short bursts out in the sun (especially in Summer), OR for longer periods in the sun; cover up, wear a hat + sunnies, cool long sleeved/legged clothing and use a natural sunscreen when needed.
Some of our favourite natural/mineral sunscreen brands are; Eco Sunscreen, Natural Instinct, Soleo, Wot Not, Moo Goo, Little Urchin, and Surf Mud. Avoid ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, retinyl palmitate, and avobenzone.
Enjoy the sun in the early morning or late afternoon/evening where you can still get all the benefits with less harsh UV (UV exposure is highest between 10 am - 2 pm).
We live in Australia - so book in those yearly skin checks!
If you are unsure of your Vitamin D status or think it might be playing a role in your health concerns, please reach out. We are always here to help.