In February, a study of more than 3,000 children at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York showed that low vitamin D levels are associated with increased likelihood that children will develop allergies to both food and environmental allergens. Over the last five years, low vitamin D levels have also been linked to asthma, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia, schizophrenia and some common cancers as well as auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and MS.
The best source of Vitamin D is the action of sunlight on the skin, so vitamin D deficiency is common in people who use sunscreen and other forms of sun protection or who spend little time outdoors. People with coeliac disease and other bowel conditions that cause malabsorption are also at risk. A failsafer whose dietitian recommended a blood test was surprised to find her daughter’s Vitamin D level barely in the normal range (55, regarded as sub-optimal) with no improvement after three months of trying to increase sun exposure.
In Australia and New Zealand, the official sun recommendation for exposure of unprotected face, hands and arms ‘most days’ ranges from 7 minutes at 10 am in summer in Northern Australia to 97 minutes in winter in Christchurch. According to researchers from the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory in Boston, in the absence of exposure to sunlight, a minimum of 1000 IU vitamin D per day is required to maintain a healthy concentration of vitamin D in the blood. Vitamin D supplements permitted on the strict elimination diet include OsteVit-D which contains the equivalent to 1000 IU vitamin D3 per capsule (consult your dietician).