In episode 029 of my podcast Unstress, I was joined by paediatrician Dr Leila Masson to discuss an integrative approach to raising a healthy child. This was a great episode and we covered so many different topics. One big topic that stood out was the role of vitamin D, this nutrient is important for children and adults. However when you look at how we live today, many of us are deficient.
Why is vitamin D important?
Low levels have been associated with increased risk of developing allergies, cancer, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and infectious diseases. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that converts to a hormone in the body. It impacts our skeletal structure, blood pressure, immunity, mood and brain function. Hence having adequate amounts is so important. Regular blood tests are the best way to monitor your levels, especially if supplementing.
What do the different levels mean?*
Below 50 = deficient
Below 80 = insufficient
About 120 = optimal
How to increase your levels?
- Spending time in sunlight unexposed is the best way to do this. D Minder Pro is an app for your phone that will tell you when you can make vitamin D depending on your location, how long to stay outside before burning and track your levels over time. Depending on the time of day and year it can take just 10 minutes to absorb 10,000 units from the sun.
- Food such as halibut, mackerel, mushrooms (including maitake and portobello), cod liver oil, sardines and eggs are high in Vitamin D. While eating these foods will help meet your daily recommended intake, they will not boost levels that are deficient or insufficient.
- Supplementation – when levels are low this can be the most effective way to increase them. Before supplementing it is important to have a blood test to know your own levels in order to avoid overdoing it on the supplement. There are two forms of supplemental vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. D3 is estimated to be four times more effective in humans than D2.
*These levels are based on Australian tests and can vary depending on your country