Vitamin D

 

Good for our bones and we're learning,our brains. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient.

But when you live in one of the world's best climates, the sun provides plenty of Vitamin D for most of us. "About 80% of Australians actually have adequate levels of vitamin D."

"Despite this sunny climate, millions of Australians, around 1 in 5 of us, take vitamin d supplements. Now, for the first time, researchers have discovered that could be doing more harm than good."

"Unlike some of the other vitamins, you can accumulate vitamin d in your system and that may have detrimental effects." Professor John Mamo from Curtin University led a three year project which found that too much Vitamin D can be really bad for your brain. "It could have risks for certain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, it may contribute to Parkinson's disease amongst other disorders but it may also have influences in terms of your behaviour and your ability to function in ordinary living such as memory performance."

Australian Medical Association chief, Doctor Michael Gannon, says five to ten minutes of sun exposure a day, is enough Vitamin D for most people. "It doesn't make sense that we could have such a high level of deficiency against a vitamin that's derived from exposure to the sun in a country like Australia." The best advice is to see your GP for a blood test. Supplements are fine, IF your vitamin D levels are inadequate. "It's not something that I would encourage people to just go and grab over the counter at the chemist; it has no value in the absence of a defined deficiency."

John Mamo says "If your levels are normal then there's no reason to be taking a supplementary vitamin d and I wouldn't recommend it." For researchers, the next step is to improve the health of our brains, once the damage has been done. "Our laboratory is also very keen and looking at ways of restoring integrity of these vessels so that we can slow progression of certain diseases or reduce risk for certain diseases and hopefully improve ordinary daily performance such as memory."