Winter is coming! Yes, you read that right, and No, it’s not in six months but a month. Australia is one of the few countries whose mercury bulb drops so low that it snows in the middle of the year. While other countries would be busy decorating during their winter, Australians are barraged with many campaigns and awareness articles around the importance of vitamin D supplementation.
Why is that important compared to other temperate countries? Why is this winter and the campaign and awareness around vitamin D supplementation extra special? First off, Vitamin D is a significant vitality amine (hence the name) that strengthens the immune system and is consequently valuable in preventing infections and cancers. It’s also called the sunshine vitamin due to the body making it in large quantities following the skin’s exposure to the sun.
Consequently, for places like Melbourne — which was the most extended lockdown city globally–winter adds to the potential backlog of vitamin D deficiencies across the population. During the lockdown period, Australian drank a lot, so much that the Global drug survey 2020 named Australians as the heaviest drinkers in the world, getting drunk an average of 27times a year. So on average, alcohol abuse plus limited access to sunlight (lockdown and winter months) equals vitamin D deficiency.
A recent study in Melbourne showed a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and two other prevalent cancers; colorectal (men) and breast (women) cancers. These lifestyle changes may potentially worsen Australia’s record as the highest skin cancer rate compared to other OECD countries. Although Australia’s low mortality rate from skin cancer is ascribed to early diagnosis and the topping up of vitamin D levels, this positive effect may have been hampered by Covid-19.
Yes, every article must be linked to Covid; bite me…LoL!!! But seriously, during the lockdown, many non-urgent diagnostic tests such as skin checks had to be cancelled understandably due to the burden of covid cases on the health care system. Whilst Australians may have missed out on their routine checks (similar experiences reported in the UK), the situation is worsened by a shortage of contrast dye for diagnostic tests — due to current lockdowns in China.
So, you see, this winter and vitamin D supplementation is vital. The sunshine vitamin is scarce as the sunshine is shy during these months. Ironically, UV radiation from the sun is the primary cause of skin cancers in Australia. So the recommendation is simple but crucial; put on sunscreen every day, top up your vitamin levels, cut down on the booze, and keep taps on availability for routine checks.
Stay warm and be vitamineD!