Are you getting enough vitamin D this winter?
With winter well and truly upon us, the shorter days combined with the struggle to get out of the office at lunchtime makes it hard for us to enjoy the winter sun. When you live in the sunburnt country that is Australia, this might not seem like a big deal; that is until you realise the warm rays of the sun are pretty important for providing us Aussies with vitamin D. The latest research suggests that vitamin D plays a pretty important role in keeping us fit and healthy and reducing illness. But alarmingly, more than 50% of us aren’t getting enough of this sunshine vitamin.
The percentage of us not getting enough vitamin D actually fluctuates throughout the year, with spring being the season when we are in shortest supply. Even when we reach December, the first month of summer, 46 percent of us are still low. So what’s the problem with not getting enough vitamin D? Well, vitamin D plays a role in everything from maintaining your energy levels and a healthy immune system to keeping your bones strong and your heart healthy, making it one very important vitamin.
Now you might be wondering how is it possible to get enough vitamin D when you are also meant to Slip, Slop, Slap and protect our skin when we’re in the sun? The good news is; a little bit of the sun’s rays goes a long way with providing enough vitamin D. In other words, you don’t need to bake or burn and put your skin’s health at risk in order to get enough.
According to Accredited Practising Dietitian Alex Parker from The Biting Truth, getting enough vitamin D is as simple as:
Increasing your intake of oily fish; While 90 percent of your vitamin D comes from the sun’s rays, the remaining 10 percent comes from food. Including two to three 150g serves of nutrient-dense fish each week, of which at least one serve is an oily variety such as salmon, herring and swordfish, will help with reaching your vitamin D requirements.
Eating mushrooms each day: Mushrooms exposed to sunlight naturally generate vitamin D, but if left too long in the sun they will shrivel and go brown. But farmers have found a way to generate vitamin D by exposing mushrooms to a short burst of sunlight after harvesting. This generates vitamin D while maintaining a nice looking mushroom, and just three mushrooms will provide 20 percent of your vitamin D requirements. For tasty mushroom recipes visit Power Of Mushrooms.
Taking a ‘sun’ break: The amount of sunlight you need to make vitamin D varies depending on the season, time of day, the state you live in and the colour of your skin. While 5-10 minutes of sunlight exposure at midday in summer might be enough for a moderately, fair-skinned person, in winter, anywhere from 7-30 minutes of sunlight at midday is needed depending on where you live. People in Hobart and Melbourne require nearly twice as many minutes in the sun as people who live in Sydney or Perth. For more specific recommendations on your individual sunlight requirements, check out the Vitamin D and Bone Health Position Statement.
Getting a blood test: A blood test will be able to confirm your levels of vitamin D and whether or not you should consider supplementation.
Photo Credit: Ingimage
Caitlin Reid is a unique health professional with qualifications as an accredited nutritionist, accredited exercise physiologist and yoga teacher. Caitlin is passionate about all things health and wellness, and keeps up-to-date with the latest health research, which she uses when contributing expert advice to health, fitness, lifestyle and food companies. She is also the nutrition expert for the Women’s Fitness magazine, the dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and ambassador for Papaya Australia. Follow Caitlin on Instagram @caitlinareid or visit her website.