YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 7

without sunscreen) is all that’s required for adequate Vitamin D. In Australia’s southern states, two to three hours per week is recommended. Please note that sunbathing is not required to make Vitamin D - it’s still very important to wear sunscreen and protective clothing when the UV index is high. How do you get Vitamin D from your diet? Diet can provide the extra boost of Vitamin D that you need in winter. Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D include: } Oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and trout. } Meat, cheese, egg yolk, offal and milk are also good sources. } Breakfast cereals, yoghurt and margarine are often fortified with Vitamin D, so check the labels to see if you’re getting any extra Vitamin D from these sources. Did you know that mushrooms are an excellent source of Vitamin D? Mushrooms contain a compound called Ergosterol, which is converted to Vitamin D by the sun. Farmers are exposing mushrooms to more light to increase their Vitamin D, but this is something you can also do yourself. You can meet your daily Vitamin D requirements by placing one serve of three to four large mushrooms in direct winter sun for one hour before cooking and eating them. FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 What about Vitamin D supplements? Supplements may be necessary if your Vitamin D is tested and found to be low. It’s important not to self-medicate, as Vitamin D can build up in the body and become toxic at high doses, causing abnormal heart rhythms, constipation, kidney failure and nausea. A recent study has also shown that excess Vitamin D may slow down the body’s reaction times in older people. If you think you may have low Vitamin D, see your doctor for appropriate testing and treatment. The most effective way to keep your Vitamin D levels up in the longer term is to combine safe sun exposure with foods that are high in Vitamin D. Final thoughts: It is estimated that one in three Australians have low Vitamin D, and this statistic tends to worsen through the winter months. Seeking advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian can help you pile your plate with plenty of foods rich in Vitamin D. And don’t forget to get outside for some winter rays! YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 7