Vitamin D- do you need a supplement?

August 1, 2011 BY: LISA

Vitamin D  :

  • Promotes calcium absorption in intestine which help maintains blood levels of calcium and phosphate to enable strong healthy bones
  • Important nutrient for bone growth and remodelling
  • Involved in cell growth
  • Has a role in immune function and the,
  • Reduction of inflammation

Vitamin D is formed from a reaction on our skin surface with the sun’s UV rays; this is where
most of the vitamin D needed by the body is produced. This reaction is less effective in dark skinned people and as we age. Clearly anyone who covers up or doesn’t get outside often will also run the risk of being low in Vitamin D – A particularly
at-risk group are the elderly living in residential care.

Food is quite a poor source of vitamin D. There is some vitamin D in foods such as fatty fish (salmon,
mackerel, and herring) also meat, eggs and fortified foods such as margarine.  The major dietary sources are
those from fortified foods such as margarine. However, increasing the fortification of foods with vitamin D is not the answer for high risk groups but it may assist those at lower risk. Most people only get 5-10% of their vitamin D needs from food.

As our society is becoming more Sun Smart we are getting less access to the sun’s UV rays, converting less to Vitamin D and therefore being low in this important vitamin is becoming more common.

It is recommended that we strike a balance between Sun Smart and adequate Vitamin D status:

  • In Winter (in Melbourne) we need a 2-3 hours per week sun exposure to
  • In Summer (in Melbourne) where the UV rays are
    stronger and there is an increased risk of skin cancer 6-8 minutes each day in the cooler parts of the day is adequate

Vitamin D Supplements:
If you’ve had your vitamin D levels tested and have come up low but you feel
that you are unlikely to get more sunshine, a supplement could be useful. People
with moderate to severe vitamin deficiency will need higher supplement doses
initially and then a maintenance daily dose to keep levels within adequate
levels. It is important to use supplements with the recommendation from your GP as everyone’s Vitamin D levels will
differ and you can have too much- it’s a fat soluble vitamin which means we don’t pass out the excess in our urine.


Lisa Renn, Accredited
Practising Dietitian (APD)



  1. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is valuable and everything.
    Nevertheless imagine if you added some great visuals or videos to
    give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but
    with pics and videos, this blog could definitely be one of the best in
    its field. Excellent blog!

    April 6th, 2013
  2. Thanks for the feedback Revolyn,
    I’ve started to add some pictures now and video sounds like a great idea for the future too.

    Lisa Renn
    March 25th, 2014

All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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