For the past few years, vitamin D has been gaining a reputation as a wonder vitamin.


In fact, research suggests that supplementation with vitamin D may reduce the risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all other causes.


The list is long, and growing. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked with heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, the common cold, influenza, polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility in women, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, schizophrenia, and many more.



How much do I need?


  • Minimum daily requirements for vitamin D are 600 IU (15 μg) for people aged < 70 years and 800 IU (20 μg) for those aged > 70 years.


  • People with a vitamin D deficiency usually require higher doses to replenish their stores.




Instead, the majority of your vitamin D is produced by your body. Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Hence it’s nickname, the ‘sunshine vitamin’.


It only takes a brief 6-8 minutes of sunlight exposure to your face, hands and arms without sunscreen 4-6 times a week+ in summer to generate the vitamin D you need. In winter however, this time may need to be up to 6 times this amount,



But it remains unclear whether a higher level of vitamin D in your blood will prevent these conditions.


We do know for sure that vitamin D has several important functions.


Vitamin D regulates the absorption and distribution of calcium and phosphate, and facilitates normal immune system function. As such, getting a sufficient amount


of the vitamin is essential for growing and maintaining healthy bones, as well as improving resistance against certain diseases.


Are You Getting Enough?


Not likely.


It is estimated that a staggering 30-60% of Australians are lacking vitamin D.


Although food is usually the best way to get vitamins, it’s different with vitamin D. Only a few foods contain a significant amount of vitamin D – salmon, tuna, sardines, milk, margarine, fortified cereals, and some types of mushroom. You are unlikely to get more than 5-10% of your daily requirement from your diet.



depending on where you live.


But we are deterred from getting enough vitamin D from the sun by the fact that too much sun exposure causes skin cancer. And yet sunscreen, if applied correctly, prevents your ability to absorb vitamin D by up to 90%.


Winter is the worst time of year for our vitamin D levels. During the colder months


– due to the shorter days, less intense sunlight, and a tendency to stay indoors to keep warm – most of us deplete our vitamin D stores.


So what can you do? Go outside to get your daily dose of sunshine – try a walk in the morning, play ‘catch’ with your dog in the afternoon, or…


Consider a Supplement


If you are vitamin D deficient, you may not have any obvious symptoms, but it can have significant long term effects on both children and adults.


To find out if you are deficient, talk to your doctor about a blood test.


Supplementation will ensure you are getting enough vitamin D, especially during winter.


Unless advised by your doctor, the usual recommended dose of a vitamin D supplement is 1000-2000 international units (IU) per day. However, doses up to 4000IU per day are considered safe. The most common form found in


supplements is vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol), as it is the same form made in your body and lasts the longest in the blood.


So if you want to keep your bones strong; support your immune system; or perhaps just live a little longer, ask at your local DCO pharmacy for the ‘sunshine’ supplement right for you.


+ Excessive sun exposure can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Avoid exposure between 10am and 2pm.


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.