Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common amongst Australians, and the problem is on the rise. Despite a mainly sunny climate, we are increasingly reducing our sun exposure by the application of sunscreens, the use of tinted windows or shades, and working indoors to a higher degree than our ancestors.
Vitamin D is incredibly important for a number of reasons, some widely known such as calcium storage and bone health, and others less so such as blood glucose metabolism. We are all aware that Type 2 diabetes (the lifestyle disease) is also on the increase, and the correlation with less sunshine and more screen time cannot be ignored.
Recent studies have found a strong correlation between the vitamin D levels of pregnant women, and the grip strength of their children once they reach the age of 4. Women who had sub-optimal levels produced children with comparatively weaker muscle condition, and vice versa.
Another recent study compared vitamin D levels in healthy children age 4-14, to those in the same range diagnosed with asthma. Commonly (79%) of the healthy children had adequate vitamin D in comparison to just 21% of their asthmatic peers. The same group of children had a higher occurrence of respiratory tract infections when low in vitamin D.
As a naturopath, I may advise my patients to get a vitamin D test to rule out possible deficiency. This can be done for a small fee through a referral from myself, or may be done with your GP if it is deemed necessary. It is important to note that a ‘within range’ result from the doctor, if at the low end is still considered low by a natural health practitioner, and supplementation will generally be advised. Therefore it is important to obtain copies of tests to take along when visiting a naturopath or nutritionist. Vitamin D should be taken for 3 months and re-tested to check the body is responding.
So who should be testing their vitamin D to ensure it is at its best? High risk people include:
- Office workers and those who spend lots of time indoors
- Pregnant women (should be monitored throughout pregnancy as needs increase)
- Children suffering with frequent respiratory infections or asthma
- Those diagnosed with an autoimmune disease
- Shift worker
- Ageing people
- People with a family history of osteoporosis
- Anyone suffering with blood sugar dysregulation or diabetes
- Athletes and sports people
- Those who cover their skin or have darker skin pigmentation
Aside from the sun, Vitamin D is also available from some foods:
- Salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, catfish & herring
- Fortified foods such as cereals, breads & milks
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, chat to your GP or make an appointment to go through a naturopathic assessment, and discuss in further detail.