Vitamin D is essential for our wellbeing; particularly growth, strong bones, calcium absorption and immune function. Consequently, both children and pregnant women strongly benefit from optimal levels of Vitamin D.
According to a national study of more than 11,000 adults conducted by Deakin University, ‘nearly one third of Australian adults are suffering Vitamin D deficiency’.
How can we help to ensure that we have optimal levels of Vitamin D? I spoke to Kate Barnes, Holistic Health Coach, to get the low down on Vitamin D and some natural ways to boost our levels (transcript below the video.)
A bit about Kate…
Kate is on a mission to deeply nourish the hearts of women and their families for a happier world. To diffuse the many confusing messages that are slowing us down from being our best selves.
A farm girl at heart, after working as an executive in professional services for many years Kate returned to her love of personal development and started her global business as a certified Holistic Health Coach. She has a Bachelor of Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and a thriving wellness practice.
Today we’re going to talk about Vitamin D, a really essential vitamin for everyone, particularly pregnant women and children, can you tell us what Vitamin D is important for our bodies?
Vitamin D is at the heart of our immunity; we also need it for our bones as it assists with the absorption of calcium to strengthen the bones; and it can also act as an anti-inflammatory once it is activated in the body, which also is linked to our immunity.
How do we get vitamin D?
Great question! Mainly from the sun; 95% of Vitamin D in our bodies comes from the sun, we get some from food but not a lot, so the most efficient way is from the sun.
We have a bit of a dilemma then obviously, between ensuring we are protected from the sun but also getting enough Vitamin D. How much sun do you actually need then to get optimal levels of Vitamin D?
The body is actually so clever it will regulate the amount that we need so that we can’t overdose, but there are some key factors to consider in our body’s ability to metabolise Vitamin D. To metabolise it (to be able to use it), we need fats – healthy fats in our diet, cholesterol and our organs – our kidneys and liver- need to be working well. So how much we need depends on the state of our wellbeing, and our diet.
Do you have any tips on maximising our chances of getting enough Vitamin D while still being sun smart?
Yes, so I’ll talk about my personal experience, with our family because I think it is unique for everybody in terms of where we live (geography from the equator), how harsh the sun might be, our skin type, the time of year etc, is going to be a factor in being sun smart. Generally however, in summer when we want to be outside more and the sun is more intense, the rule of thumb is ten minutes, with less time between 10am and 3pm when the sun is higher and harsher. For me, if we go to the beach in the morning I give the kids 10 – 20 mins, and it doesn’t matter about cloud cover, we know the rays still come through, depending on what is going on, and then I put them in a long sleeve top, hat, and sunscreen on the face (but I try to limit the amount of sunscreen I put on).
Well that makes sense because it is going to act as a barrier isn’t it?
Yes exactly, Vitamin D is such a crucial hormone, once it is activated in the body it is a hormone, it is such a key molecule and our skin is our largest organ so, for me, mother nature doesn’t make mistakes, why is our skin our largest organ and why is Vitamin D so important? I think there is a strong connection between the sun and our health, and we have been almost conditioned to be fearful of the sun when actually it is really important to our health.
Australians have a really high incidence of Vitamin D deficiency and also high levels of skin cancer. You would think surely if Vitamin D levels were just related to sun exposure that wouldn’t be the case…What are some other factors that could be related to Vitamin D deficiency? I know you have already mentioned fats in the diet…
Yeah it is a good point as those statistics don’t seem congruous. We’re looking at kidney and liver health, the amount of good fats in our diet and the level of cholesterol. If we have low cholesterol we are not going to metabolise Vitamin D as well. So increase your healthy fats to help with the cholesterol and then maybe do some testing to check in with the state of your kidneys and liver health. You may not think little ones can have kidney and liver issues but this day in age it can be an issue, due to the toxic load that we are inheriting and are exposed to.
If parents want some more information in relation to Vitamin D for their children or themselves, is that something you offer in your services and what other services do you offer?
My services as a holistic health coach mainly centre around food and lifestyle choices (there is so much confusion around what is healthy), and really empowering women, especially in the heart of the home, with this knowledge and connect them with this information that, as a species, we have lost over time. It used to be passed down from one generation to the next but with our busy lives and modern lives the connection to that wisdom has eroded away. It is imparting that knowledge that I have learnt as a scientist, as a mum myself, and with my clients. Definitely if people are looking for a holistic approach to their wellbeing, and fundamental information that will stand the test of time – not a fad, it is more about a lifestyle – and that they can pass on to their children, that is where i come in.
Where can people find you?
Disclaimer: This information is just one part of a balanced lifestyle that covers a wide range of health fields and professional advice. If you are ill or sick with a treatable medical illness then continue to see a conventional medical practitioner. The training and experience of Kate Barnes Health Coaching is holistic and it complements conventional medicine but Kate Barnes is not a qualified doctor. Ultimately health is about discovering the choices that work for you as an individual and taking ownership of those unique requirements.