Curtin University: Nine out of 10 Aussies have low vitamin D intakes, Curtin study showsNine out of 10 Aussies have low vitamin D intakes, Curtin study shows

A new Curtin University study has found 95 per cent of Australians have low vitamin D intakes, with researchers recommending food sources such as oily fish and eggs.

The study, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, used new information on the vitamin D content of foods, produced by the research team, and dietary intake data collected from more than 12,000 Australians in the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

Lead researcher dietitian and PhD student Eleanor Dunlop, from the Curtin School of Population Health, said the study suggests that Australians need data-driven nutrition policy to safely increase their intakes of vitamin D.

“Most Australians consume less than half of international recommendations for vitamin D (10 µg/day). We can produce vitamin D through sun exposure, but we know that being SunSmart® is vital in Australia to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer,” Ms Dunlop said.

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of poor bone health. Since nearly one in four adults are vitamin D deficient in Australia, carefully considered food-based strategies may safely increase intakes of vitamin D and improve vitamin D status in the Australian population.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, as well as people born outside of Australia or the main English-speaking countries. People residing in southern states of Australia, and people who are obese or have low physical activity levels, are also at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency.”

Senior author Associate Professor Lucinda Black, also from the Curtin School of Population Health, said that vitamin D intakes were lowest in younger people, with women more likely to have lower intakes than men.

“It can be difficult to consume enough vitamin D as few foods are rich in vitamin D. Oily fish is the best food source of vitamin D, with two serves a week recommended. Other foods such as eggs and meat contain small amounts, but we don’t find vitamin D in fruits, vegetables or grain-based products, like bread or rice.” Associate Professor Black said.

Ms Dunlop and Associate Professor Black have recently compiled Australia’s first comprehensive database of vitamin D in foods.

“This is the first time we have had an estimate of usual vitamin D intakes in Australia that is based on comprehensive food composition data for the Australian population,” Associate Professor Black said.

“The new data on the vitamin D content of foods have been adopted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand for inclusion in the Australian Food Composition Database.”