A high proportion of Australian are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is a mineral that is essential for strong bones, muscles, immunity and overall health.
The main source of vitamin D for the majority of Australians comes from exposing the skin to UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun.
Although vitamin D can come from food sources, it is not as a reliable source as the sun. Food sources of vitamin D include:
- Foods fortified with vitamin D
- Fatty fish
- Some milk products
Sun Exposure and vitamin D
Getting vitamin D form the sun’s UV rays is a balancing act. It is about taking a sensible and balanced approach to sun exposure. It is important to remember that UV radiation from the sun is also the main cause of skin cancer.
In order to boost your vitamin D levels and minimising your risk of skin cancer, you can expose your bare face, arms and hands for about 20 mins before 11.30 which begins the most dangerous period.
Vitamin D is a hormone that regulates your calcium level in the blood. Therefore, if your vitamin D is low, your calcium levels will be affected therefore increasing your risk of developing musculoskeletal conditions.
People with dark skin are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This is because their skin acts as a filter to UVB radiation and so reduces the amount of vitamin D that the body makes in the skin.
Breastfed babies can be at risk of low vitamin D if the mother is vitamin D deficient. This is because babies get their initial store of vitamin D from their mother. If the mother is vitamin D deficient, then their breastfed baby is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Infant formula is fortified with vitamin D.