Low levels of vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk of depression in mid-life, says a new study from University College London in the UK.
A bit like probiotics, vitamin D is another foundation, health-promoting factor previously ignored or misunderstood and involved in much more than just building bone. The very fact that we call it a vitamin when it is really a hormone is just the beginning...
Now of course, when vitamin D, or rather the widespread deficiency thereof, is better understood we are looking to the best form of supplements and the appropriate dose to counter the deficiencies. These are a legacy of skin-cancer scare campaigns and a society that spends way too much time indoors. Why doesn’t someone simply suggest that the remedy is sun exposure at a time when it will actually promote the production of this vitamin? I’ll admit that’s a challenging recommendation for dark-skinned individuals in higher latitudes but in my part of the world, it’s easily do-able it’s free, guaranteed to work (well if you get the exposure right) and it feels great. I’ve never been a fan of total cover-up from the sun and while I definitely don’t advocate the endless hours on Sydney beaches that marked my early years, I suggest we would all, our kids in particular, benefit from more time in the great outdoors.
Sarah Berry writing in Sydney Morning Herald April 2012 quotes biochemist and author Lyle MacWilliam who says ‘The current vitamin D recommendations in Australia are seriously out of date.’ So avoid sunburn, limit exposure to the strong midday sun, but ensure some regular, unprotected exposure when the sun is more than 50 degrees above the horizon (it’s at 90 degrees when it’s directly overhead). Vitamin D is manufactured when the skin takes on a very slight pink tinge. There’s debate about how quickly vitamin D, which is oil-soluble, is absorbed from the skin with some experts advocating washing with water only, so use soap on the smelly bits only after your time in the sun.