Everyone should be aware of the importance of vitamin D. This vitamin is critical to human health for a number of reasons. It is key for muscle and bone strength and is essential for many other functions. While the sun provides us with plenty of vitamin D, it can also cause skin damage and increase your risk of skin cancers. Getting enough vitamin D every day requires exposure to at least your arms, hands and face during the middle of the day. Daily sun exposure can be a little tricky as most of us work indoors during optimal vitamin D times and in the harsh Australian climate over-exposure on the other hand is easy to do if you're not careful!. Let's take a look at some of the problems that a lack of vitamin D can cause.
Those who don't receive enough vitamin D will suffer a number of health issues. This vitamin is the key to controlling the calcium levels in blood. Vitamin D also assists with muscle and bone development and it helps to prevent osteoporosis. While those who lack vitamin D might not notice any of these symptoms right away, over time they might suffer some serious health consequences. Vitamin D deficiency can create a condition called osteopenia in older adults. This is a medical term for extremely fragile and weak bones. A vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children, which is a form of weak and soft bones. It can also create significant muscle and bone pain as well.
Low levels of vitamin D are linked to diabetes type 1 and type 2, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, a myriad of cancers (specifically colon cancer), mental health conditions (particularly schizophrenia) and a number of autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to osteomalacia, numerous extra-skeletal conditions and a wide variety of fragility fractures. While it has not been determined if the proper level of vitamin D can prevent these conditions, medical experts are sure that a deficiency of the vitamin can potentially contribute to them.
It is critical to receive sun exposure on areas of the skin that aren't covered by clothing in order to maintain the ideal vitamin D levels. Although Australia gets plenty of sun, a surprising number of locals do not get enough natural vitamin D from the sun. It is advisable for adults in Melbourne to receive 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight at least 4-6 times per week. It is ideal to obtain 15 minutes of sunlight directly on the uncovered skin of the face, arms and the legs between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM. While this is the best time for UV exposure for vitamin D3 conversion, it is also the peak time for skin damage from over-exposure. If you do expose your skin to the mid-day's potentially harmful ultraviolet rays, you should use a protective sunscreen on the areas of your skin that are exposed to the sun, however the dilemma is that this will also reduce the conversion of sunlight to vitamin D3.
Oftentimes, adults are too busy with work and parenting responsibilities to get out into the sunlight 4 to 6 times per week for 15 minute sessions. Instead of skipping out on vitamin D altogether, these individuals are advised to take supplements to prevent the dangers of deficiency. Tests are available to determine if vitamin D levels are below recommended, however these tests are no longer covered by Medicare, perhaps in part because it has become more accepted that most people with a modern lifestyle will be deficient. Do not hesitate to give us a call if you would like to learn more about ensuring your vitamin D levels are supporting your optimal health.