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5 simple ways to boost your vitamin D intake

As the temperature drops, we often wrap up warm and choose to spend our time indoors enjoying a movie marathon over a walk on the beach. However, by not getting outdoors and into the sunshine, we may be limiting how much vitamin D our bodies can make, writes Dr Denise Furness.

Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and is therefore essential to support bone formation and maintenance of strong bones. Low vitamin D and calcium may result in the body taking calcium stores from our bones. Furthermore, Vitamin D is involved in various other important functions in the body, such as supporting our immune system.

New research conducted on behalf of Ostelin found that more than 70 per cent (72 per cent) of young women are unaware of the role vitamin D plays for the health and development of their bones, so it’s important vitamin D is on the radar for Aussies this winter.

Whilst winter might make it harder to get outdoors, vitamin D is essential to support calcium absorption and overall bone health. Australians should be considering their bone health at an early age to prevent problems that may be associated later in life.

To boost your Vitamin D intake, I suggest implementing these simple and easy steps into your everyday routine:

Soak up the sun

Explore the great outdoors by going for a walk during your lunchbreak or opting for outdoor weekend activities. These could include going for a bike ride, taking the dog for a walk or simply doing some reading out in the backyard.

Eat oily fish

For any fish lovers, try eating oily fish such as wild-caught salmon or sardines that contains higher levels of vitamin D. Tuna also contains some vitamin D, but it may be best to limit intake to twice a week due to the mercury content. If you’re not a fan of fish, you can always try vitamin D and calcium enriched foods such as eggs or dairy products like cheese and milk.

Try an alternative

If you don’t like fish, consider supplementing with cod liver oil that contains vitamin D, vitamin A and omega 3 fatty acids. Vitamin A works together with vitamin D to help ensure that your genes function properly and it is thought to be involved with vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin A, D and omega 3 together support eye health, brain function and may even help to reduce chronic inflammation.

Add more dairy to your diet

If you can tolerate dairy, fortified milks and cheeses are a great way to get extra vitamin D and calcium into your diet. Other vitamin D enriched foods include mushrooms and eggs. These foods can help top up your levels, particularly in winter when there is less sunlight.

Supplement your diet

Consider boosting your vitamin intake through supplementation of vitamin D and calcium. These additions to your diet can help maintain strong, healthy bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.

Dr Denise Furness is a molecular geneticist, nutritionist and medical researcher. 

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