Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and one of our key vitamins for wellbeing. We are able to source Vitamin D naturally from the sun, as well as from food sources.
Even though Australia is a very sunny country, Australians are often Vitamin D deficient. It is suggested that over 30% of Australian adults have a severe deficiency with the figure for a mild deficiency much higher. Children and newborns are now being looked at more closely for deficiencies – Vitamin D is able to be transferred through the breastmilk of mum, however, mum MUST have adequate levels for this process to happen. It is estimated that 20-85% of pregnant women worldwide have sub-optimal Vitamin D levels, which is why we look at nutrient status in the preconception stage.
The process of converting Vitamin D from the sun requires a few steps. Firstly the sun needs to be at the right angle in the sky, secondly, different areas of the skin need to be exposed to encourage absorption, ideally areas of large surface area such as the abdomen, back and legs. Internally the steps for absorption first happens in the liver, the second in the kidneys. Each of these steps need to function correctly in order for the body to utilise the Vitamin D.
Ideally, Vitamin D levels should be checked yearly with a simple blood test through your GP or health care provider. Levels of below 50(OH)D are considered severely deficient with a level of 100 – 120 as ideal.
Vitamin D does not work alone, it also needs Vitamin A, Vitamin K2, Zinc, and Magnesium to support absorption.
Benefits of Vitamin D
1. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut, it also normalises mineral levels for bone health.
2. Vitamin D is required to support the immune system. Low levels are often seen in autoimmune conditions, reoccurring illnesses and the inability to recover from a cold quickly.
3. Vitamin D is required for healthy reproductive health – both men and women’s fertility require Vitamin D.
4. Vitamin D is required for healthy hormonal health, not just reproductive health but also stress and adrenal response, mood and sleep.
5. Vitamin D is transferred in breastmilk to support bubs levels, this is key for bone health, hormone health, immunity and mood.
Sources of Vitamin D
Apart from the sunshine we are able to enjoy some dietary sources of Vitamin D. If you are deficient food alone may not be enough, you may require a Vitamin D3 supplement until your levels have returned to ideal and enjoy the dietary sources alongside supplementation. Vitamin D3 supplements should be taken with a main meal to support absorption. We do, however need a little sunshine each day, food sources alone are not enough to maintain optimum levels.
Natural dietary sources of Vitamin D include:
+ Cod Liver Oil (This is also great for children)
+ Organic and grass-fed eggs (they are exposed to more sunshine than battery hens). Vitamin D is found in the yolks
+ Organic Liver, beef and chicken
+ Fatty Fish – Salmon, trout, sardines, herring, tuna, mackerel
+ Organic Full Fat Dairy – sheep milk, goat milk, and cow milk products such as yoghurt, cheese etc
+ Button Mushrooms (small levels)
WORDS: Alyce Cimino BHs Naturopathy + AHARA HEALTH owner