Over 30% of Australian adults have a Vitamin D deficiency. Read on to find out the best sources of Vit-D and how to know if you might be at risk of a deficiency.
How Much Do You Really Know About Vitamin D?
Like all vitamins – Vitamin D is essential for good health. It is a hormone that helps the body to absorb calcium, meaning it is super important for strong bones and muscles. The human body produces Vitamin D through a series of processes that begin when ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun make contact with exposed skin. However, we can only absorb a limited amount at a time so spending prolonged periods in the sun is not advised.
Sources of Vitamin D
We all know that the big yellow sphere in the sky is the best natural source of Vitamin D, so where are we supposed to get our daily dose when the sun is hiding? Vitamin D is naturally occurring in only a small number of foods and added to others. Here is a list of foods that contain small amounts of Vit-D:
Fish – especially fatty fish such as salmon and tuna
Fortified foods – this includes cereals, plant-based milks, orange juice
Unfortunately, humans can only absorb around five to 10 per cent of their required Vitamin D from food. This means you cannot rely on diet alone to maintain a level of Vitamin D within the normal range, so try to get some exposure to the sun each day. Participating in regular vigorous exercise has also been linked to higher Vitamin D levels.
How much do you need?
The recommended level of Vitamin D for people at the end of winter is at minimum > 50 nmol/L. This is a general guide from Osteoporosis Australia. During summer, people’s Vitamin D levels are expected to be higher, reaching around 60-70 nmol/L. There is no way to know your level without getting tested by a GP.
Are you deficient or at risk of a deficiency?
In Australia, Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common amongst adults - more than 30% have a mild, moderate or even severe deficiency. It is important to note that the use of sunscreen does not result in low Vitamin D. People do not always display obvious symptoms when it comes to a Vitamin D deficiency, yet there are some serious health effects that can arise from a failure to treat a deficiency, from bone and muscle pain, to softening of the bones, including rickets and osteomalacia.
Certain people are at a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency, including:
Those with naturally very dark skin – contrary to popular belief, the pigment (melanin) in dark skin is unable to absorb as much UV radiation
Those who avoid the sun due to a history of skin cancers, immune suppression or sensitive skin
Those who wear clothing that covers or conceals the majority of their skin
Those who spend a long time indoors or have limited sun exposure due to night shift work
Those with a disability or a disease that affects vitamin D metabolism, such as cystic fibrosis or IBD
Those who take medication that affects Vitamin D metabolism
Those that are obese
Babies that are breast fed from Vitamin D deficient mothers
Low Vitamin D
If you suspect that your Vitamin D levels may be low and are concerned, please don’t hesitate to seek advice from a GP. Individuals found with low levels may be recommended Vitamin D supplements, only to be taken as directed. Following the treatment of a deficiency the goal is to maintain normal Vitamin D levels.
Contact the staff at Gympie Road Medical if you would like to make an appointment.
Bushfires may still affect your health even if you live miles away. Learn how you can avoid the dangers with advice from GPs of Gympie Road Medical Centre.
How Bushfires Can Affect the Health of Brisbane Residents
The bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria have affected millions of residents, but they may also have adverse effects on people living in other states such as in Queensland as well. There have been multiple reports of heavy smog and haze in various Australian states
that you may have even experienced in your own suburb. Bushfire smoke not only impacts air quality and visibility, but can also be detrimental to you and your family’s health, causing long-lasting respiratory health problems.
Smoke of any kind is dangerous, and that applies to bushfire smoke, as well. Bushfire smoke contains fine particles of dirt and harmful gases, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which can enter and penetrate deep into your lungs. They are known irritants to the respiratory system and can damage your health over time.
Dangers of Bushfire Smoke
Anyone with pre-existing lung or heart conditions are most likely to be affected by the harmful effects of bushfire smoke. With strong winds spreading the smoke haze across the states, vulnerable groups including the elderly, pregnant women, and children, also need to protect themselves from the dangers of bushfire smoke. Regardless of whether the sky looks clear or hazy, there will be lingering smoke particles in the air that can potentially irritate your respiratory system. This can be fatal for people with pre-existing health conditions and undiagnosed health issues like asthma, heart attack or stroke.
Which face mask should I buy?
With air quality reaching over 10 times the hazardous rating in some suburbs, it is important to protect ourselves from bushfire smoke. Currently, the only proven method is to use a P2 or N95 mask. Also known as a PR Respirator, these masks are engineered to filter fine harmful particles like smoke, that can enter our bodies through our respiratory system. Unfortunately, face masks worn by doctors and surgeons are designed to filter polluted air and do not fit the face well to be considered effective.
Symptoms to look out for
Avoid exposure to smoke and haze when air quality is poor during the bushfire season by staying indoors and closing your windows. If you develop throat irritation, watery eyes, breathlessness, chest tightness, skin irritation or a persistent cough, we recommend a check-up at your local family GP clinic. Here at Gympie Road Medical Centre, we have a team of GPs and specialists who can help assess your symptoms and advise solutions to help alleviate your symptoms.
If you suspect your health may be affected due to the recent bushfire smoke, get in contact with our friendly staff today to book an appointment today.