Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by our bodies in response to our skin being exposed to sunlight. Getting enough vitamin D is essential for a number of reasons. Not only does it play a substantial role in the regulation of calcium; it also maintains phosphorus levels in the blood. Two factors that are critical for bone, muscle, and overall health. Find out why-you’re-not-getting-enough-vitamin-D; and how to increase your intake with a healthy, balanced diet (and The Doc).
Vitamin D Levels Fluctuate With The Sun
It is natural for our vitamin D levels to change with the seasons. In Summer we are able to get enough because UV levels are high, and we tend to spend more time outdoors. During these months Queenslanders typically need only a few minutes of sun exposure mid-morning and mid-afternoon. However, with our tendency to seek refuge from the sun our vitamin D levels are taking a hit. If your body isn’t receiving enough sunlight, or producing enough vitamin D, it can result in significant health effects; and increase a person’s risk of musculoskeletal conditions including weakened bones in children, and fragile, misshapen bones in older adults.
The Different Reasons For A Vitamin D Deficiency
Low Exposure: Our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. So if you spend a lot of time indoors, wear long robes or head coverings, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure; you are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency.
Low Consumption: This is especially likely if you follow a strict vegan diet, as most natural sources of vitamin D (sans sunlight) are animal-based; including fish, egg yolks, fortified milk, cheese, and beef liver.
You are also at a higher risk of having low vitamin D levels if you have naturally dark skin, a disability or chronic disease, or are an older adult. Similarly, if you suffer from milk allergies or are not eating a balanced diet you may also be at risk.
The Doc’s Favourite Vegan-Friendly Vitamin D Sources
While sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, it can also be found in food. However, because our bodies are built to get vitamin D through our skin (and not our mouths) there are surprisingly few foods that naturally contain Vitamin D.
Mushrooms: All mushrooms have varying amounts of vitamin D. However, not all are created equal. Portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake mushrooms are especially abundant; providing as much vitamin d as a supplement!
Doc Tip: Leave mushrooms in the sun for even 20 seconds to soak up additional vitamin D! Bonus!
Fortified Soy or Almond Milk: Many milk alternatives are fortified with vitamin D, and contain almost as much as cow’s milk. This is a great way to sneak extra vitamin D into your diet! Check the label of your favourite milk to see if it has been fortified.
Vitamin D Drops: These drops can be prescribed by a practitioner and boast much higher amounts of vitamin D in a single drop. This liquid supplement is vegetarian based and free of animal ingredients. This option also works well for those who have difficulty swallowing capsules as they are easy to use; and an accurate measure of vitamin D for your body.
If you need help with finding the right balance in your diet, or sourcing sufficient vitamin D than The Doc’s nutritionally balanced menus might be right for you. We want to meet your body’s needs with tailored programs that focus on achieving and maintaining long-term good health – not just weight-loss. Book in with one of our Docs and start next Tuesday.
The Doctor’s Kitchen and our doctors service all Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Toowoomba areas.