It's been a long winter, and as a result, many of us can have a vitamin d deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiencies are more prevalent during and just after the colder months of the year. This prevalence is due to the lower amounts of sunlight and how we generally stay indoors during colder weather.
Our bodies create vitamin D, known as the "sunshine" vitamin, through exposure to the sun.
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy, strong bones. Good levels of vitamin D also has links with a healthy immune system and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancer and diabetes.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
According to the Better Health Channel Victoria, "Vitamin D deficiency does not always have obvious symptoms".
Some symptoms, however, may include:
Getting sick often
Muscle, back and bone pain
Thinning hair or hair loss
Anxiety or depression
Who is at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
Apart from it being winter, many factors contribute to your risk of becoming vitamin D deficient. They include:
spending little time in the sun due to avoidance, spending too much time indoors, being housebound etc.
wearing concealing clothing so none of your skin is never in contact with the sun.
having a disease or taking a mediation that affects vitamin D metabolism
being pregnant or breast-feeding.
A diet lacking in vitamin D
Natural sources of vitamin D
The sun. Sun exposure helps treat vitamin D deficiency. Your skin has to be in direct exposure to the sun without sunscreen. Please see below for tips on how to safely expose yourself to the sun without getting sunburnt.
Foods. Foods such as beef, cheese, egg yolks, fatty fish (e.g. salmon and tuna), fish liver oil, fortified dairy and fortified cereals all have vitamin D in them. Eat a balanced diet including the foods mentioned above to help treat and or prevent vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D treatment
Sun exposure and the foods mentioned above under "natural sources of vitamin D" can help treat vitamin d deficiency, as well as a vitamin D supplement. Talk to your doctor about treatments and supplements.
Getting vitamin D through safe sun exposure
In Australia, we have high levels of skin cancer. So, how do you get vitamin D without the skin cancer risk?
The recommendation for sun exposure for vitamin D is between 5 and 25 minutes daily. In the warmer months, we recommend that you get these minutes in the morning or evening sun when the UV isn't as harsh.
If you feel that the sun has a sting, or it is too hot, refrain from being in direct sunlight and reassess at another time of the day.
As always, it's essential to regularly check your skin for the appearance of new moles or changes to your existing moles. New appearances or changes can indicate the presence of early skin cancer. The earlier skin cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.
Do monthly mole checks and see a medical professional once a year to check your skin.
Here at The Clinic, we offer total-body mole mapping. Total-body mole mapping scans the entirety of your skin surface for the presence of skin cancer. Learn more about the process here.