Vitamin D Deficiency

Natural Light and Increased Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency in Australia.

It is a sad reference to todays society and the increased workloads we all have that between 1/3 and half of office workers in Australia suffer from a deficiency of Vitamin D, particularly during the winter months. This is mainly caused by the lack of exposure to the sun. This became an issue for our family when a relative, who works in the Melbourne CBD was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency and was advised by the doctor...”welcome to the world of office workers”

Caused by our long working hours, busy lifestyles and cautiousness of over-exposure to the suns harmful rays we are spending less time in the sun and more time in the office/workplace.

Vitamin D is absorbed by the skin through the sun’s rays and is needed to absorb calcium from dairy foods and for building strong bones and muscles. Long term deficiency in Vitamin D can contribute to a greater risk of Osteoporosis and a decline in muscle function. This can also lead to other serious health problems.

The best way to increase the level of vitamin D in our system is to get more skin exposure to the sun. 10 minutes mid-morning or afternoon in summer and 30 minutes around midday during winter. This should be done with as much skin exposure as possible but remaining wary of the sun’s harmful effects. In moderation, sunlight can improve your immunity, prevent disease and stimulate your metabolism.

An effective way to improve the absorption of Vitamin D in indoor workers is to retrofit the lighting in work areas. It has been long known that full spectrum lighting has many health benefits. It can increase Vitamin D absorption, reduce headaches, reduce Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), help improve mental alertness and improve moods. They are not dependent on the weather or time of day.

Why use Full Spectrum Lighting?
It can improve mood. Increase energy levels. Enhance mental awareness. Reduce eye strain headache and fatigue.
Improve visual clarity and colour perception  

These are just some of the reasons to improve the lighting in your workplace. Remember that your most valuable asset in the workplace are your employees, helping them to have an enjoyable and healthier workplace will in turn benefit your organisation.

An excerpt from:
A Literature Review of the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants.
(A paper sponsored by the U.S. Govt in 2002)

Occupants in day light and full-spectrum office buildings reported an increase in general well being. Specific benefits in these types of office environments include better health, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, financial savings, and preference of workers. Benefits to the office worker are so great that many countries in Europe require that workers be within 27 feet of a window (Franta and Anstead 1994).

In buildings where daylighting is not or cannot be integrated, using full-spectrum bright lights has been shown to positively affect the workers in the buildings. Full-spectrum bright lights allow day and night workers to adjust their internal clocks or circadian cycles (see section: Affects of Light on the Body) to match their work cycles. Improvements in productivity, a decrease in accidents, an increased level of mental performance, improvements in sleep quality, and an increase in morale among night shift workers have also been attributed to better lighting (Luo 1998).

Effects of Light on the Body
Humans are affected both psychologically and physiologically by the different spectrums provided by the various types of light. These effects are the less quantifiable and easily overlooked benefits of daylighting. Daylighting has been associated with improved mood, enhanced morale, lower fatigue, and reduced eyestrain. One of the important psychological aspects from daylighting is meeting a need for contact with the outside living environment (Robbins 1986).

According to Dr. Ott (Ott Biolight Systems, Inc. 1997a), the body uses light as a nutrient for metabolic processes similar to water or food. Natural light stimulates essential biological functions in the brain and is divided into colours that are vital to our health. On a cloudy day or under poor lighting conditions, the inability to perceive the colours from light can affect our mood and energy level. Dr.Liberman (1994) also mentioned that light plays a role in maintaining health:

When we speak about health, balance and physiological regulation, we are referring to the function of the body’s major health keepers; the nervous system and the endocrine system. These major control centres of the body are directly stimulated and regulated by light, to an extent far beyond what modern science…has been willing to accept.