The lowdown on Vitamin D

How are your Vitamin D levels? Why is it important? Don't we get enough from the good old Aussie sun? Well recent research has uncovered a few more important roles for this nutrient and some surprising facts about who may be deficient. Most people have heard that Vitamin D is important for your bones but research over the last few years has found relationships to athletic performance, better immunity, reduced risk of diabetes, cancer and some auto-immune diseases just for starters. In the US and UK many elite athletes are being regularly screened and supplemented with this important nutrient.

A number of our own sporting teams are now starting to test their athletes' Vitamin D levels in their quest for optimal muscle mass and strength, as well as recovery, repair and resistance to illness. So why would say a football player be low you may ask? Well if you have darker skin, wear plenty of sunscreen, train or compete indoors or away from the hottest part of the day, your exposure as well as your ability to absorb the vitamin from the sun is greatly reduced. Hey even surfers in Hawaii have been found to have low Vitamin D levels! You are also at risk if you carry some extra body fat.

The best dietary sources are not that easy to obtain for the average person – they include wild salmon and liver - so supplements may be necessary. You may like to check with your doctor as to whether you can be tested. Of course 10-15 minutes in the sun between 10am and 2pm will give you more Vitamin D than you could possibly absorb from food and reasonable supplementation. But you may need to think about your skin type and skin cancer risk before deciding if this is the best option for you.

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