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The Vitamin D Deception

By Daniel Roytas MHSc (Nut), BHSc (Nat), Dip. RM, MANTA

Despite living on the sunniest continent on Earth1, 25% of all Australians are thought to be vitamin D deficient2. Rather than acquiring vitamin D from sensible amounts of sun exposure to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D, it seems the Australian public have turned towards supplementation instead. As of 2010, there were 89 vitamin D manufacturers selling 195 different vitamin D products in Australia. Almost 60 million vitamin D products were sold that year, totalling an eye watering $89.3 million3. Why is all of this money being spent on something that we can literally get for free, right outside our front door?

Could it be that the public health initiatives around sun safety have worked too well? A 2011 paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that it is relatively difficult to obtain the equivalent of just 1000 IU (1 capsule worth) of vitamin D from sun exposure when adhering to sun smart recommendations4....

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Are we overlooking widespread vitamin A deficiency in Australia?

By Daniel Roytas MHSc (Nut), BHSc (Nat), Dip. RM, MANTA

Could it be possible that widespread, subclinical vitamin A deficiency exists in the Australian population? According to the Australian Department of Health, vitamin A deficiency is thought to be rare1. However, the 2011-2012 Australian Health Survey found that 33% of males and 27% of females aged 14 - 18 years, and approximately 20% of individuals aged 19 – 50 years had inadequate intakes of vitamin A2. Note that the RDI for vitamin A is 900 µg/day for men and 700 µg/day for women3.

There are a number of recent case studies in the peer reviewed literature that have found severe ocular diseases in Australian children4 and adults5 arising from inadequate dietary vitamin A intake. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that 36.5% of children presenting to the Sydney Children’s Hospital with ocular disease had vitamin A deficiency6. Many of these cases are irreversible...

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