Busting the Vitamin D myths. Are you getting enough sunshine vitamin?

29 Jul 1919

If we took every vitamin on the market, the pharmaceuticals would be super-rich and we might have nothing but expensive pee. Not that we should shun supplements, but we need to discern the facts from the myths. And the myths around Vitamin D abound:

Myth #1: South Africans get more than enough of the sunshine vitamin

A recent study by The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reported that nearly 15% of the world’s population are Vitamin D deficient. As South Africans, we shrug this off. We’ve got the sunshine! However, studies show that 19% of 10-year old South African children have insufficient Vitamin D, and 7% are deficient.

Do you have the following symptoms: muscle pain, weak bones, depression, fatigue, and the slow healing of wounds? Do you constant get colds or flu? If so, your Vitamin D levels might be low. You can check by having a blood test. Book an appointment now, and let us check this.

Myth #2: A healthy diet supplies all the vitamins you need

This isn’t the whole truth. Unlike other vitamins, only 10% of the Vitamin D needed by the body comes from food. it triggers Vitamin D synthesis in the skin. The problem is we work indoors; we use sunscreen; and we cover ourselves up for cultural or religious reasons – or to keep warm in winter.

Also, Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin at all! It’s a prohormone: something the body converts to a hormone. Like other hormones, it’s produced in one part of the body (under the skin) but used elsewhere, predominantly the liver, kidney and intestine to control the blood calcium concentration and to strengthen immunity.

Myth #3: You can’t get adequate Vitamin D as a strict vegetarian

Foods that boost Vitamin D levels include egg yolks, fatty fish, mushrooms and fortified foods, but eating more of these might not do the trick! If your lifestyle is unhealthy – through eating too many empty calories, or through stress – your gut health will not be optimal and your ability to absorb vitamins will be compromised.

Interestingly, free-range or pasture-raised chickens produce eggs with higher levels of the RDI of Vitamin D. Similarly, wild mushrooms, which are exposed to sunshine, have higher levels of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, most of us don’t eat foods in these forms.

Some milk and plant-based milk alternatives, cereals, breads and certain types of tofu are fortified with Vitmain D. You can read the product labels to find out..

If your Vitamin D levels remain low, consult your doctor to consider a supplement. Book an appointment.

Myth #4: Stacks of sunshine is the solution

Extended sun exposure will not raise Vitamin D levels significantly but will increase the risk of skin cancer. Light-skinned people need approximately 20 minutes of unprotected sun-exposure daily, and early-morning sun is considered very good. Darker skin acts as a sunscreen so more time in the sun is required. This is especially important for children, whose bones are developing.

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