IT IS hard to believe that in this sunburnt country of ours that so many of us can be vitamin D deficient.
It seems to be all the rage at the moment with some studies showing up to a quarter of all Australians are running low on this very important nutrient - that's one in every four of us!
And, it's easy to see why.
We used to be outdoor people - as kids we played outside and then as we became adults we worked on the land, and if we didn't work on the land we pottered around in our gardens.
We used to get our vitamin D quota from the sun - without even trying!
These days we are cooped up indoors - we work indoors, we play indoors, we socialise indoors - and, if we do venture outside, its slip, slop, slap!
Now I am not suggesting that you ignore the sun safety messages, but it should be noted that our main source of vitamin D does comes from exposure of our skin in the sunlight.
So should we really remain in the shadows, away from the sun? The guidelines for recommended levels of sun exposure for adequate vitamin D synthesis for an adult is between five and 15 minutes of sunlight a day, four to six times per week outside the hours of 10am and 2pm - this obviously depends on where you live, your age and your skin colour.
Did you know, people with darker skin require three to four times more sun to achieve the same D synthesis? So if we can't get our vitamin D through the sun, how else can we get it?
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D.
Fish liver oils such as salmon, cod and mackerel are your best bets.
Meat, egg yolk, milk, sprouted seeds and some fortified foods also contain some levels of Vitamin D.
To get adequate levels of vitamin D through diet alone you would need to consume at least two servings of fatty fish like salmon or mackerel every day! So in order to get the correct intake of Vitamin D try a combination of foods, getting out in the sun and, if necessary, use supplementation in the way of a vitamin D capsule.
Scientists are really only just discovering how important this little vitamin is! Not only is it good for keeping bones and teeth healthy, but it also has a multifaceted role in the proper functioning of the whole human body!
Its ability to lower the risk of diseases, not originally thought to be associated with vitamin D is just starting to emerge.
Vitamin D is required for normal metabolism, as well as muscle, heart, immune, inflammatory and nerve functions.
There are a growing number of studies showing that vitamin D can help prevent or treat health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, obesity, arthritis, flu, upper respiratory conditions and infectious diseases.
What it all boils down to is that every cell in the body requires vitamin D!
On the surface you usually can't tell that you are vitamin D deficient but muscle aches and weakness can certainly give you the heads up.
A simple blood test by your doctor can tell you if you are vitamin D deficient.
Self prescribing can sometimes lead to other issues so if you have any concerns about your vitamin D levels, pop in to see your medical practitioner just as soon as you can.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Its major role is to aid in absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine and build and maintain bone mass.
It also has a role in reducing inflammation, preventing malignant cell growth, moderating immune function, and leveling mood.
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure.