How can you get vitamin D during the winter

Those living in southern Australia, particularly in Melbourne, typically don’t receive a lot of sunlight during July – the middle of winter.1 The amount of sunlight Australia’s most populated cities receive is listed below:2

  • Melbourne: four hours in July
  • Adelaide: five hours in July
  • Perth: six hours in July
  • Sydney: seven hours in July
  • Brisbane: eight hours in July

Why all this talk about the sun? The skin absorbs the sun’s ray to help the body make vitamin D, a key nutrient that enables the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, supporting healthy bones and muscle function.3

So people residing in parts of Australia that don’t receive as much sunlight during the winter months should think about exploring other ways to boost their vitamin D levels. Thankfully, the sun isn’t the only source of this nutrient.3

Visit the fish market

Mackerel, salmon, herring and trout are reliable sources of vitamin D, because their bodies contain a sizeable amount of healthy fat.4 For example, about 100 grams of cooked salmon can provide the average person under the age of 70 with an adequate amount of vitamin D.4

What if you want to take advantage of what little sun there is in certain areas of the country? Instead of going to the supermarket to buy some fish, make a day out of catching your daily doses of vitamin D.

Consider taking supplements

For those unable to get sufficient vitamin D through the sun alone, taking a supplement is a convenient way to top up your daily vitamin D.3 Capsules, liquid drops and chewable tablets are all reliable sources of the vitamin.3

The various ways in which vitamin D can be consumed can make it easier for parents to get their kids to take supplements. Some off-the-shelf products, such as Ostelin’s Vitamin D Liquid for Kids, provide vitamin D in liquid form are flavoured and come with a handy measuring tool that will allow mothers and fathers to determine exactly how much of the supplement their children should take daily.

Why would kids need to supplement their vitamin D intake during the winter? Research suggests that adolescents suffering from vitamin D deficiencies may encounter muscle weakness, back pain and discomfort in the lower limbs.5

Take a break from the winter cold

If you have the opportunity, you shouldn’t pass up taking a trip to more sun-rich portions of Australia, such as the northern parts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Kalumburu and Darwin receive about 10 hours of sunshine a day on average during July. Compare that with the four hours of sunlight Melbourne typically receives around the same time.1

During the winter, there’s no need to stress about the scarcity of sunlight in southern Australia. Between the fish available throughout the year, the supplements readily available in your nearest supermarket or pharmacy and the more luminescent winter climate of the north, there are a variety of ways to get the vitamin D your body requires.

References
  1. Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Average daily sunshine hours – July. Date unknown. http://www.bom.gov.au/watl/sunshine/ 16/04/2015
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2013-14. March 2015. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3218.0/ 16/04/2015
  3. Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. April 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/ 16/04/2015
  4. The Skin Cancer Foundation. Oily Fish: Your Route to Vitamin D. 2012. http://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/vitamin-d/oily-fish-your-route-to-vitamin-d 16/04/2015
  5. University College Cork, Ireland, Vitamin D Research Group. Children and Teenager. 2015. http://www.ucc.ie/en/vitamind/faqs/throughthelifecycle/childteenagers/ 16/04/2015.