Top5 ~ Vitamin D

Vitamin D ~ The Sunshine Nutrient

Top5 Vitamin D

1. Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health issue.

2. Vitamin D is activated in our skin by ultra violet B rays from the sun.

3. Vitamin D is not widely distributed among foods, we need only have brief sun exposure to synthesize it ourselves.

4. Without sufficient sun exposure, Vitamin D must be supplemented.

5. Vitamin D fulfills important biological roles not limited to, but including: skeletal structure and integrity, skin health and the immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency is common, among all ages, sexes and demographics; and not just here in Australia (which is ironic because we are the “sunburned country”) but worldwide. It is pandemic.

But it’s not contagious, it doesn’t require mask-wearing or panicked trips to the GP for injections and it’s signs and symptoms are myriad and often attributed to other causes. So we don’t really give it much thought.

Well I’m here to tell you it’s time to think about it! Vitamin D is an important nutrient: it contributes significantly to our skeletal system via its synergistic relationship with bone building minerals; it is a key player in our immune system and it regulates the differentiation of rapidly dividing cells.

And you don’t even need to eat it ~ our skin is designed to store it in an inactive form which is activated upon exposure to ultra violet B (UVB) rays from the sunshine.

But today we may be overdoing it on the “slip, slop, slap”; plus we work, study and play indoors much more than only a few generations ago – when kids were routinely dosed with a teaspoon of cod liver oil, drank whole milk with the fat soluble nutrients intact, ate butter and regularly played outdoors.

The guidelines for sun safety advise to stay out of the sun between the hours of 11 – 3pm, which is when the UVB rays are best available. It’s clear to see that the modern day lifestyle and to some extent diet, causes vitamin D deficiency.

All you need is 10 – 15 minutes in the UVB rays to activate enough vitamin D to tide you over for a couple of days. So a few times a week, before you slop sunscreen all over and pull those long sleeves down, let yours and your family’s skin drink in the sunshine – it NEEDS it.

Vitamin D cannot really be adequately acquired via the diet, although there are some foods that contain it: fish liver oils, butter (and fortified margarine but I will NOT be recommending the consumption of this shit) as well as egg yolk, milk and sprouted seeds.

So unless you and your kids regularly consume oily fish, sprouts, egg yolks and spend 15 minutes of freely exposed, flesh-bared time in the sun three times each week, you can err on the side of caution and assume vitamin D levels are at the lower end of desirable.

Vitamin D and Disease Prevention and Treatment

Recently the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and food allergy in infants, children with two or more allergies were ten times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency.

Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world, but also one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency.

Cells of the immune system called T-cells are involved in the recognition of foreign particles (pathogens) known as antigens. The coupling of an antigen with a T cell elicits an appropriate immune response.

T-cells contain vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D is involved in the proper functioning of this part of the immune response.

A food allergy can be described as an inappropriate immune response to an antigen that is not ordinarily pathogenic.

Rickets is a disease of childhood whereby the bones do not mineralise adequately caused by an error of calcium metabolism. Vitamin D contributes closely to the regulation of blood calcium.

  • The parathyroid glands contain calcium-sensing proteins, which in response to a decline of calcium in the blood, secrets parathyroid hormone (PTH.)
  • PTH stimulates an enzyme in the kidney, which increases the biologically active form of vitamin D: Calcitriol.
  • Calcitriol restores calcium levels in one of three ways:

1. Activating increased absorption of calcium in the small intestine.

2. Increases the release of calcium stored in the skeleton.

3. Increases the re-absorption of calcium in the kidneys.

Rickets is on the rise too, in these modern times. In the early twentieth century, as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution (city living, diet changes and so on), Rickets was one of the most devastating diseases of childhood, resulting from impaired calcium absorption and subsequent retarded bone growth and skeletal development.

Treatment and eventual prevention of Rickets was with sunshine exposure, cod liver oil and the widespread vitamin D fortification of milk.

Osteoporosis must be treated with vitamin D as well as the bone minerals in order to optimally restore bone density.

Rapidly dividing cells (proliferating cells) differentiate into specific cells with specific functions. Generally differentiation leads to a decrease in proliferation.

In some circumstances, cellular proliferation is essential such as in growth and wound healing but uncontrolled proliferation can lead to such diseases as cancer and psoriasis.

Vitamin D inhibits proliferation and stimulates the differentiation of cells.

Autoimmune diseases are those whereby an inappropriate immune response is mounted against self-antigens, such as Insulin-dependent Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Calcitriol (the biologically active form of vitamin D) modulates the T-cell response in these diseases sufficiently to diminish the immune response.

Supplementing with Vitamin D

My first preference is a wild caught/sustainable fished cod liver oil.

Else seek out a supplement which contains Vitamin D3 (not D2: D2 is the synthesized version of vitamin D and is not interchangeable in function or benefit) such as Ethical Nutrients Daily D or Bioceuticals D3 drops.

But really: get out, get sunlight. Our bodies know how to do what they need to do to keep us in adequate Vitamin D supply.

K180, x



Higdon J, An Evidence-Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals, Thieme, NY, 2003.

Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute [online]. Micronutrient Information Centre; Vitamin D. Available from:

The Age [online], Vitamin D deficiency linked to food allergies.

Hollick M. The Vitamin D Deficiency Pandemic: a Forgotten Hormone Important for Health. Public Health Reviews [online] available from:

















  1. Informative and digestible as always :) My levels are 110nmol/L, but my integrative GP says this isn’t high enough to get me through the natural dip of winter (he says it could drop to 70nmol/L) so has me on 8,000 IU per day to get me up to 180-200nmol/L.

    • Katie180 says:

      You GP sounds like they know what they’re doing. I’d actually like to get my levels up more too, and I’ll be doubling my cod liver oil from today!

  2. Had a blood test for other reasons and incidentally found out my Vit D is180!! Very high :) Yah!! All that QLD sun & stay at home mummy-ing job of mine means I am in this range?!!!

    • Katie180 says:

      That’s great, I suspect my out and about pram pushing and park tripping affords me the sun exposure I need too! Just as well for us Mums who need to be strong and healthy to keep the troops together eh? :)

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