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Diabetes Victoria Blog

Join the discussion in our blog where a variety of writers from all walks of life take a stance on current diabetes issues.

Lack of sunshine made me feel 'off':

how prioritising my health led to positive changes

This week is Women’s Health Week (7-11 September), an opportunity for women across Australia to prioritise their health and make positive changes that can last a lifetime. 

Over the past 6 months during the COVID-19 lockdown, many of us missed getting our regular check-ups. Diabetes Victoria’s office administrator, Leanne Blandford, has been working from home for some time now. She recently discovered that ‘being shut away’ from her normal routine has made her feel unwell. In this blog post, Leanne shares how she was feeling and what steps she took on her journey to better health. 

Leanne’s story

I woke up feeling tired and thought I was having ‘just one of those days’ again. 

This had been going on for a few weeks and I put it down to our new puppy needing to go out during the night. But today was a bit different. My muscles were sore, but I had not done anything to warrant this. 

It felt strange, so I took a couple of painkillers with brekky and went about my day of working from home.

As the day wore on, I started to feel a bit better. The only problem was that those days were becoming more like every other day. 

So, as most people do, I consulted ‘Dr Google’ and a number of ailments popped up. One caught my eye: Vitamin D deficiency. After reading more on the issue, I decided to take myself off to the doctors to get a professional opinion.

The blood tests confirmed that I did indeed have a low number, indicating the lack of Vitamin D. As the doctor explained, it had become more common recently due to the fact that people are working from home and not getting out and about like they used to.

Vitamin D is sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because it's produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Yet, at the moment, many of us aren’t walking to the train, work or carpark. Some of us may not be taking our daily lunchtime walks or runs, or even popping out to have lunch in the sunlight.

So, if you can, pop out for at least 30 minutes, better an hour, every day and enjoy the sunshine. Adding foods containing Vitamin D to your diet is also a good idea. These little changes can help with your overall mental wellbeing. Along with dietary change, I am now on a daily Vitamin D supplement and, hopefully in the next few weeks, I will feel like myself again.

A message from our dietitians

Vitamin D is an important hormone that controls the calcium levels in our blood and is needed for strong bones, muscles and overall health. Regular sun exposure and eating foods containing Vitamin D helps maintain adequate Vitamin D levels. If you have low Vitamin D levels, you may be advised to take a Vitamin D supplement to boost your levels.

The main natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight. As Leanne mentioned, some of us are spending more time inside, and naturally Vitamin D levels change with the seasons – wintertime resulting in less sun exposure. 

Vitamin D and food

Although sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D, some foods contain small amounts of Vitamin D; including: 
  • Oily fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel
  • Eggs 
  • Foods fortified with Vitamin D, like some milk, soy milk, breakfast cereals, margarine
  • Mushrooms exposed to UV light
  • Liver. 
Check out this roasted salmon fillet recipe for a simple way to include more Vitamin D in your diet.

Risk factors for low Vitamin D levels

Some people who are more likely to have a low level of Vitamin D include:
  • People with naturally very dark skin – the melanin pigment in dark skin doesn’t absorb as much UV radiation
  • People who avoid the sun or are mostly indoors
  • People who conceal most of their bodies in clothing or coverings
  • People whose weight is above the healthy weight range.

Fatigue is a common symptom reported by people with low vitamin D levels, however it could also be a symptom of a range of other medical conditions including high blood glucose levels. It may also be due to an inadequate diet and not enough exercise. It is important to have your symptoms checked by a professional. We recommend booking an appointment with your doctor to discuss your symptoms.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily endorsed by Diabetes Victoria. Please consult a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diabetes management. 


Better Health – Victorian Government

Jean Hailes for women’s health

Osteoporosis Australia
LeanneLeanne Blandford is an office administrator at Diabetes Victoria and has been with the organisation for more than three years. Leanne is 52 years old, happily married to Daryl and has two sons, Tom and Nathan. Leanne recently became a grandmother and loves listening to music, cooking, reading and travelling.