Why do we need to eat?

We all need the energy and nutrients that food provides for our bodies to work properly. We eat to maintain growth and tissue repair for healthy bodies, to have the energy to carry out a variety of activities and to keep us warm.
Calcium and vitamin D are needed for the development of strong, healthy bones. Vitamin D is responsible for promoting calcium absorption, improving muscle strength and immune function and reducing inflammation. Its role also includes maintaining sufficient blood levels of phosphorous and calcium to support bone formation, mineralization, growth and repair. Dairy products are rich sources of calcium. Whole, semi-skimmed and skim milk all contain calcium. Other sources of calcium include soy milk and yoghurt with added calcium, lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin when it is exposed to ultra-violet light from the sun. Just 10-15mins of sun exposure (following ‘sun-safe’ guidelines) three times a week is enough for the body to produce adequate Vitamin D. However, the rays that cause the body to synthesize Vitamin D are UVB rays. Most of us obtain our vitamin D requirements from this process, and only a small amount of exposure is required. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel are the richest dietary source of vitamin D.
We need to balance our risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with the benefit of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. In Australia, sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Refer to the Cancer Council website for further information about vitamin D and sun exposure.