Vitamin D Deficiency: Part 2.

These are some recommended Steps to help reduce Vitamin D deficiency

Key Facts:

  • The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a good source of vitamin D
  • It is important to be careful when getting vitamin D from UV radiation, because it can also cause skin cancer.
  • If you do not spend time or expose your skin when outdoors, you may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Why is it important to include Vitamin D in my diet?

Vitamin D is essential to support good bone health. By assisting the absorption of calcium from your diet Vitamin D helps strengthen your bones and acts as a regulator for Vitamin D in your blood. This assists directly in keeping your hormones, nervous system, and immune system in good shape.

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Can I get Vitamin D naturally?

To stay healthy, we require 2 main types of Vitamin D. These are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is obtained from plants (vegetables), also in supplements and fortified foods.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is mainly from sunlight although there are some animal foods and supplements that will also help.

There are 2 main forms of vitamin D you need to stay healthy: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is from plant sources. It is found in fortified food and some supplements. Vitamin D3 is produced by sunlight on the skin and found in some animal foods and supplements.

Most people do not eat sufficient food with vitamin D but can get their vitamin D with careful sun exposure. You may bet sufficient from just doing your daily outdoor tasks.

How much sunlight do I need?

Close to 90 per cent of vitamin D comes from direct exposure to sunlight. If you are getting sunlight through glass, it is not effective.

Th chart below gives an approximate guide to the times you should spend in the sun. You will note it is directly in proportion to your skin tone with darker skins requiring more time. If you live in a country with high UV radiation you should wear a sunscreen pick your time of day when the sun and UV rays are less intense and if you really need to go out during danger times, wear a sun screen.

Remember UV rays can also cause skin cancer if over-exposed.

Sunshine Guide to the dose recommended to help avoid vitamin D deficiency

Fair skin10 minutes20 minutes30 minutes
Dark skin20 minutes60 minutes90 minutes


See the sunshine map for the recommended sun exposure for your location.

People who spend most of their time indoors or wear clothes that cover most of the body may not get the sun exposure required. If you believe you may be deficient in vitamin D you may check with your doctor by requesting a simple blood test.

What are the main vitamin D food sources?

Generally, we get only about 10% per cent of vitamin D from food we eat. Primarily as there are a limited amount of foods rich in vitamin D. Often the composition of the vitamin D in these is not necessarily able to work well in humans.

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There are, however, foods that are high in Vitamin D that can boost intake. This is particularly relevant in winter. Mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D2, whereas oily types of fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and herring. Liver and Egg yolks are also high in D3. Eating an egg will give you around 10% of your daily requirement.

Supplements and Manufactured Foods

Vitamin D may be added to some manufactured foods. These will help you to get to your daily requirements. The following foods are available with added Vitamin D: milk, Soy drinks, margarines, breads, or cereals. You can check to see if you are in a high-risk group.

If your Health Professional advises you that you are low in vitamin D, they may prescribe a supplement. Guidelines recommend that people with vitamin D deficiency should take supplements — even if they are not symptomatic.

What do I need for a balanced diet?

You can reach a balanced diet and maintain it by eating nutritious foods daily from these main food groups. To achieve and maintain a balanced diet that covers all your vitamin needs, eat nutritious foods from all five food groups every day.

The 5 Food Groups are:

  • vegetables and legumes/beans — at least 5 serves daily
  • fruit — 2 serves daily
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans -— 1 to 3 serves a day, depending on your age (and during pregnancy, 3-4 serves a day are recommended)
  • milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat — at least 2-3 serves daily, with the minimum amount varying based on your age, sex, and life stage
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties — the number of daily serves of wholegrain cereals you need varies based on your age and life stage, ranging from 4 serves daily for children to 6 serves daily for adult males under 70 years and adult females under 50 years of age

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Limit takeaway or ‘junk’ food to once weekly or less and drink water in preference to sugary drinks. Limit sweet foods (such as cake and lollies) and well as salty, processed foods (such as salami and chips).

Drink no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks on any one day. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the safest option is to not drink any alcohol.


Jean Hailes (Vitamin D)NHMRC (Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Vitamin D)Healthy WA (Vitamin D)Cancer Council Australia (Vitamin D)Healthy Bones Australia(Vitamin D)NPS medicinewise (supplementation is musculoskeletal health)Eat for Health(Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary 2013. Guideline 2)