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The Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. Adequate vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth, the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption as well as the immune system.

In the body, the roles and importance of vitamin D are all follows:

  •     Maintenance of healthy bones and teeth;
  •     Supports the health of the immune system;
  •     Regulate insulin levels and support diabetes management;
  •     Support lung function and cardiovascular health;
  •     Sufficient levels of vitamin D can have be protective when it comes to some cancers.1

Despite its name, vitamin D is actually a hormone and not a vitamin.  This is due to the fact that the body can produce its own vitamin D as a result of sunlight on the skin.  Vitamins on the other hand are nutrients cannot be synthesised by the body.

Sun exposure on bare skin, namely the arms and face, for 5-10 minutes per day 2-3 times per week will allow the body the ability to produce a healthy amount of vitamin D.  However, it is important to note that vitamin D has a half-life of 2 weeks. Therefore it is important to have your vitamin D levels checked in the winter especially.

Cholesterol plays a role in vitamin D conversion in the body.  The liver and the kidneys also play a role in converting vitamin D into its active form.  Therefore, if you are on statins, have kidney or liver impairment, it is a good idea to have your vitamin D levels checked regularly. 

People at risk of low vitamin D:

  •     Those with very dark skin;
  •     Those with little or no sun exposure;
  •     Older adults who are frail or in residential aged care or are housebound;
  •     End stage liver disease;
  •     Kidney disease;
  •     Those who are statin drugs.

Vitamin D and food:

It is difficult to get sufficient vitamin D from food alone.  There are small amounts of vitamin D found is fish, eggs, UV irradiated mushrooms, margarine and some milks that have enriched amounts of vitamin D.

(1)    Am J Public Health. 2006 February; 96(2): 252–261.
doi:  10.2105/AJPH.2004.045260

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