As we are seeing the sun slowly creep out more, people are jumping on the Vitamin D train. But when asked why, most people don’t actually know why we need this ray of vitamin.
The Function of Vitamin D
The most important function of vitamin D is for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and regulating the immune system. It plays a vital role in the growth and development of bones and teeth, especially during childhood but also helps fight against disease. It is also a key player in maintaining work efficiency for your muscles, heart, lungs and brain function. Our bodies synthesise its own vitamin D through contact with sunlight, the amount is dependant on your natural skin pigmentation, location and omega-3 fat balance. What makes vitamin D unique is that your body actually converts it into the hormone, ‘calcitrol’ that regulates levels of calcium in the body and is often used as a treatment for bone diseases.
Not only that, have you ever been recommended to take vitamin D when you are experiencing cold/flu symptoms? By increasing vitamin D during flu season, researchers found it reduced the likelihood of actually developing a cold by destroying pathogens. Think of vitamin D as a nightclub security guard standing by in case anyone wants to stir things up. As soon as it notices something not quite right it will destroy it.
What about skin pigment?
Did you know, that lighter skin can generate more vitamin D than darker skin? This is one reason why people with fairer skin burn faster in direct sunlight. Their skin doesn’t need as much stimulation from the sun. Whereas darker skin may need to spend a little longer under the sun to gain the vitamin D it needs.
The time recommendations for sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis (during low-moderate UV levels) are:
Moderately fair skin (Summer): 5-10 minutes
Darker skin (Summer): 15-30 minutes
Moderately fair skin (Winter): 7-30 minutes
Darker skin (Winter): 20 minutes – 60 minutes
Naturally, if you do get out during midday or the highest UV levels, it will take less time to get the vitamin D you need.
Try and get out everyday if you can but be smart about the time frame and time of day. For more information on the Vitamin D guidelines head to the Cancer Council.