New research highlights vitamin D deficiencies

DEFICIENT: One in four Tasmanians are vitamin D deficient and dietitians are urging people to eat nutrient-rich foods to get their daily dose.
DEFICIENT: One in four Tasmanians are vitamin D deficient and dietitians are urging people to eat nutrient-rich foods to get their daily dose.

One in four adults and one in five children in Tasmania have a vitamin D deficiency, according to new research.

Unsurprisingly, the southern states had the highest rates of deficiency. However, the research showed it was a nationwide issue.

The new findings will be presented by the Curtin University at the Dietitians Association of Australia’s national conference in Hobart this week. It builds on findings from the Australian Health Survey, which found one in four Australians were vitamin D deficient.

Dietitians were encouraging people to enjoy safe sun exposure along with a healthy dose of nutrient-rich foods containing vitamin D.

Researcher Rachel Cheang said vitamin D deficiency was highest in Victoria, at 31.1 per cent, the ACT at 28.5 per cent, and Tasmania at 25.6 per cent. It was found to be less common in northern states like Queensland, at 11.5 per cent, and the Northern Territory, at 13.1 per cent.

Vitamin D is most commonly associated with sun exposure. However, Ms Cheang said people spent more time indoors than their ancestors, but that dietary sources of the essential nutrient could help compensate.

“If you struggle to get enough sun exposure during the day, especially over winter, try to eat healthy, whole foods that contain vitamin D. Foods like oily fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, meat, eggs, some dairy foods and mushrooms contain vitamin D and give us a host of other important nutrients.”

Vitamin D strengthens bones by helping calcium absorption, and may be important for immunity against bacteria and viruses, Ms Cheang said.