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The importance of the 'sunshine' vitamin.

Step away from your desk at lunch and enjoy some vitamin D.  

Vitamin D is a HOT topic! We all know vitamin D is great for us and that our main natural source is through the sun’s rays, but what are the true benefits of having adequate vitamin D levels and how can we find the right balance?

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Why do we need vitamin D?

Vit D helps support bone health as the vitamin helps to absorb calcium. It also plays an important role in supporting the growth and maintenance of our bones and regulating calcium levels in the blood.

Adequate vitamin D levels are somewhat of a balancing act. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) is the best natural source, but you need to be mindful of avoiding sun damage while getting your fix.

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Are you getting enough vitamin D?

We now know why we need vitamin D, but do we get enough? Are you someone who does shift work and rarely sees the sunlight? Do you work 9-5 and rarely step out of the office for a lunch/sun break? Do you avoid being in the sun due to sensitive skin?

Unfortunately, worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups.

Vitamin D levels also change naturally throughout the seasons. How much sun UV exposure we need depends on the time of year, skin type and amount of skin exposed. We generally receive enough vitamin D in summer because we naturally spend more time outdoors. During these months, most workers need just a few minutes of sun exposure mid-morning or mid-afternoon to receive adequate vitamin D levels. In winter, longer exposure times are needed preferably around midday, and if the UV index is below 3, then sun protection isn’t required.

Fortunately, food and supplements can assist when your access to the sun is limited. Pairing vitamin D with calcium ensures efficient absorption. Foods which already have this combination include canned salmon and fortified milk. Most store-bought supplements already include sources of vitamin D, such as Swisse Ultiboost Calcium + Vitamin D.

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Vitamin D Deficiency 

You could be at higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency if you spend daylight hours indoors, have naturally dark skin, or are taking a medication that affects the natural metabolism of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency does not always have obvious symptoms! Symptoms for vitamin D deficiency vary but can include getting sick often, fatigue, tiredness, bone and back pain, depression and hair loss.  
So, go out into the sunshine at lunch (sensibly!) and smile, it’s good for you and your teeth!

If you think you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your GP for advice.