Soaking Up the Sun - Vitamin D

In the midst of longer summer days there is no denying that there is a positive impact of sunshine on our lives. With this sunshine comes an extra dose of Vitamin D, however sunshine on our skin doesn’t always equal boosted vitamin D stores.

Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common especially for us Victorians.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that up to 1 in 4 Australians are deficient in Vitamin D.

Optimal levels

Deficiency is classed as less than 50nmol/L blood levels. However, there is evidence that suggests functional and optimal levels of Vitamin D should sit between 100-200nmol/L. Therefore, many more of us will actually have suboptimal levels.

Importance of Vitamin D

We need Vitamin D for so many human processes. It's needed for healthy bone development, immunity, skin health, and proper blood glucose control – just to name a few.

There is a growing body of evidence linking low or suboptimal levels of Vitamin D and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, there is also emerging and substantiated evidence linking a low Vitamin D status with many immune related disorders, such as allergies, eczema and auto-immune conditions.

Sourcing Vitamin D and its forms

Vitamin D is unique as it isn’t actually a vitamin, it is a cholesterol-based hormone and exists in two forms.

Vitamin D2 is naturally found in some forms of food, the most common being sun-exposed mushrooms; it can also be found in some oily fish. The reason as to why this is the lesser ideal of form of Vitamin D is that it must be further metabolised and essentially ‘activated’ via the liver and the kidneys in order for our body it utilise it. Additionally, for gastrointestinal absorption of Vitamin D we require adequate levels of magnesium, a correct pH, chloride and potassium balance – when it comes down to it, we really do not absorb an adequate of amount of Vitamin D through the diet alone.

Vitamin D3 is synthesised from UVB rays penetrating our skin. We have Vitamin D Receptors (VDRs) that, through a chain of reactions requiring adequate levels of cholesterol, produce an active and useable from of Vitamin D.

Feel the sun on your skin

To complicate things, active Vitamin D conversion and absorption isn’t always that easy. Add sunscreen and “Slip Slop Slap” campaigns to reduce our exposure to UVB rays. Granted, this campaign is successfully targeting the prevalence of skin cancer but it is also preventing out Vitamin D uptake. It should be recommended that we try and get a balance of sun exposure, whether it is early morning, or later afternoon when the sun rays aren’t so harsh, to ensure our Vitamin D status is optimal and functional. As a side note, consider using toxin-free sunscreens with minimal additives and active ingredients to limit absorption of nasty chemicals into the bloodstream; the primary active ingredient in sunscreens you should be looking for is a zinc oxide.

Change of seasons, growing and ageing milestones, such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause can also be trying times for our Vitamin D status. These are all times when we churn through our stores and are required to maintain adequate levels. It is through these times that supplementation may be necessary.

Ensuring optimal Vitamin D levels

When wanting to supplement Vitamin D it is a good idea to make sure you enlist the help of your Naturopath so assess where your level is at the moment, why it may be at the level it is, how it got there, and how it can be brought up. A personal favourite and exceptional form of Vitamin D supplementation is liposomal. Liposomal technology delivers Vitamin D in nano-sized particles of Vitamin D within a fatty suspension. Liposomal Vitamin D is taken orally by means of a spray. By administering it this way, it is absorbed through our cheeks and gums and heads straight into the bloodstream where it can go to needed VDRs. It ensures a higher absorption rate of Vitamin D as it bypasses the lengthy digestive system and its harsh digestive acids. An added benefit of liposomal Vitamin D supplementation is that it boosts your Vitamin D status in quicker time than encapsulated or tabulated Vitamin D.