With summer approaching its important to get just the right amount of Vitamin D, an essential ingredient for general and ocular health, while remembering to protect your eyes!
About Vitamin D
As one of the essential vitamins for body function, Vitamin D has always been a high achiever! Often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” due to the fact that the body is able to absorb, or synthesise it, when the skin is exposed to sunlight – it’s something that we all need to have some of!
Why is Vitamin D vital for our health?
Coupled with other factors like exercise and other important vitamins and minerals, Vitamin D contributes to the following general health benefits:
Strengthens bones – Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, promoting healthy bone development and helping to prevent various bone-related disorders including osteoporosis and rickets.
Boosting immunity – Vitamin D helps the body fight infections and diseases. Studies have provided evidence that there is a link between Vitamin D and a reduced risk of chronic conditions and diseases such as diabetes and even cancer.
Promoting heart health – these same studies link this vitamin to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as it reduces inflammation and supports healthy blood vessels.
Assisting mood and mental health and cognition – Vitamin D promotes the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, which play a key role in regulating mood, emotions, and overall mental well-being.
But most importantly….
Helping eye health and vision acuity – Vitamin D is believed to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss among older adults, as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties that protect the cells in the retina and support overall retinal function.
Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties also play a role in reducing the risk of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes.
Vitamin D also helps in maintaining a healthy balance of calcium in the eyes, which is essential for proper functioning of ocular muscles and prevention of conditions like dry eyes.
Best Sources of Vitamin D
Now that you know a little bit about Vitamin D and why it’s so important for your health – let us tell you where you can find it!
Sunlight – Free, 100% natural, and abundant – the very best way to get some Vitamin D is sunlight. Amazingly when your skin is exposed to sunlight, it synthesises Vitamin D. Spending about 15-20 minutes in the sun a few times a week can significantly contribute to maintaining optimal levels.
Fatty Fish – Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, are excellent dietary sources of Vitamin D. Consuming these fish not only provides your body with essential Omega-3 fatty acids but also boosts your Vitamin D intake.
Eggs – Eggs, especially the yolks, contain high levels of Vitamin D. Including eggs into your diet can be a healthy and natural way to increase your intake.
Fortified Foods – Many foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereals are fortified with Vitamin D. Including products that have been specifically engineered to boost your Vitamin D intake are worth considering including in your daily routine, especially in winter or if you don’t have the opportunity to spend time in the sunlight.
Supplements – If getting enough Vitamin D from natural sources is challenging, there are excellent supplements available that provide an easy way to increase your intake. Getting advice from a healthcare professional on which one and how much to take is always a good idea.
Things to consider to protect your eyes while seeking the sunshine vitamin!
While Vitamin D is beneficial for eye health, it’s also essential to take measures to protect your eyes from potential damage – making sure you get all the health benefits and none of the damage!
Wear sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat – UV rays from the sun can harm your eyes and contribute to cataracts and AMD. Wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays can safeguard your eyes from these harmful effects, while still allowing your skin to have exposure to the sun.
It is relevant to note here that Sunscreen does inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin to some extent. A good sunscreen is designed to block harmful UVB rays, which are responsible for causing sunburn and increasing the risk of skin cancer. However, UVB rays are also the ones that stimulate the skin to produce vitamin D. When you apply sunscreen, it does reduce the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight exposure. It is a balance to strike healthy exposure without getting burnt. 15-20 minutes of sunshine each is ideal.
Maintain a Balanced Diet – Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals supports overall eye health. Include green leafy vegetables, fruits, and fish in your diet to provide essential nutrients to your eyes.
Regular eye check-ups – Having your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist is important and will mean that any concerns or potential issues are detected early. Many eye diseases, including glaucoma and AMD, often develop without noticeable symptoms in the early stages and early detection can prevent these conditions from becoming chronic and prevent any vision loss.
Manage Chronic Conditions – If you have a condition like diabetes or hypertension, managing these conditions effectively can prevent complications that may affect your eyes. We would advise that you follow your healthcare provider’s advice, take medications as prescribed, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
As you can see, Vitamin D plays is a necessary ingredient in both general and eye health! Achieving an adequate intake of Vitamin D through a combination of sunlight, diet and supplements, and by understanding how to protect your eyes to prevent future damage, you can maintain clear, sharp vision for your lifetime.
Find out more
If you would like to understand your eye health, we recommend first seeing your optometrist. They will be able to check your eyes and will refer you to see an ophthalmologist if they have any concerns. AE&LC has a talented team of consulting ophthalmologists that have expertise and experience in several subspecialities across the ophthalmic field, meet them here. [insert link to ophthalmologist page]