How do we get Vitamin D?
We know that Vitamin D has an impact on our immune system both in relation to immune response and inflammation and that in turn. So how do we get Vitamin D? Well there are two ways - our diet and limited sun exposure.
Firstly our diet. I must say I am not a huge fan of many of these foods but each to their own and if these tickle your taste buds then here goes:
Cod Liver oil
Oily fish especially sardines
Traces in dairy products.
It is important to remember that it is very difficult to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D from food sources (unless you are part of an indigenous North American population such as the Inuits who consume oily fish, whale blubber, seal blubber and polar bear liver).
So what about sunshine? Well here’s the thing and without being an expert I will try and explain. Vitamin D from sunshine is affected by how much skin we expose (decently of course), the time of day we expose ourselves and what time of year it is (that is, where the sun is in the sky).
This has to do with latitude and living at or above 33 degrees latitude means very little if any Vitamin D can be produced in the skin from sun exposure during winter. Melbourne lies at 33.816 degrees south and Sydney at 33.8688 degrees South. So during Winter we are producing less Vitamin D than possibly needed. In the early morning and late afternoon the angle of the sun is also more oblique (similiar to winter sunlight) and therefore very little vitamin D can be produced in the skin before about 10am and after 3pm.
There is an app “D Minder” which helps tracks the sun and tells you when you can get Vitamin D and how much you are getting dependent on all factors such as skin tone, age, weight, amount of skin exposed and location. You can include your daily doses of Vitamin D from supplements to estimate your current levels. Great if you have time for working out how to use the app but very handy once you have. Remember its not going to be absolute and 100% accurate but it can give you an idea as to whether you are synthesising Vitamin D from the sun.
To make it simple, we need to exposure arms and legs and the best time to expose is when our shadow is shorter than our body. If our shadow is short then we are synthesising vitamin D. If our shadow is longer than our body we won’t synthesis vitamin D.
As we head into winter leaving behind a summer that was a not only a little mediocre but was mostly under a thick smoke haze, plus our social isolation increasing our indoor time, your exposure to the sun and therefore adequate amount of time for adequate Vitamin D synthesis is unlikely. So Vitamin D through supplementation and dietary sources, is a potential way we can improve our personal immunity as we head into winter and make our way through this pandemic.