Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for human health and well being, protecting us from disease, including some cancers, brittle bones and ensuring optimal health. It is one that the human body does not produce or store easily and is best generated through exposure to sunlight.
Our levels of vitamin D affect our ability to uptake calcium and with insufficient vitamin D, we are at risk of developing rickets, which causes bones to weaken.
Sun – friend or foe?
As our awareness of sun protection has evolved, and we have changed to spend much more time indoors, there has been an increase in the documentation of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D is found in some foods, such as cod liver oil, oily fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products. If you enjoy a balanced diet, and get outside most days of the week, chances are you will be getting enough vitamin D.
Even though the sun in New Zealand can be ferocious, health professionals still recommend spending 30 minutes a day outside (not in the heat of the day) with minimal sun protection to top up your vitamin D levels.
Older adults, those with very dark skin or those who have had gastric bypass surgery are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency because their skin does not absorb as well.
Sunlight obtained through glass will also not give as efficient a dose. The message is; enjoy the outdoors sensibly. Being outdoors will also allow your lungs to get a healthy dose of fresh air and provide the opportunity to get a bit of exercise, which is also great for your bones.