‘Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.’ – Hippocrates

On a rather frigid morning recently, I was walking past our aviary and noticed the finches lined up on the sunward side, trying to get what they could from the miserly offerings. I wondered whether they were there for the warmth or did they have the instinct that they needed vitamin D. A quick ‘Google’ on the subject revealed that they needed 1000IU/kg/day, 90 per cent from sunlight. Not only do vitamin D-deficient birds get rickets, but they also produce soft-shelled eggs, low clutch sizes and suffer from egg binding and low hatchability. So in our avian friends there is even an ‘obstetric’ function for vitamin D.

Vitamin D is truly the vitamin of the decade and new functions for it seem to be found all the time. How things have changed. In my 1976 physiology textbook, calcium and bone metabolism are only mentioned. Ten years ago one didn’t think of vitamin D in day-today practice and now we find a whole new medical industry has sprung from it, hopefully for our betterment. In this issue A/Prof Glyn Teale tries to sort out the fact from the fiction in a wonderfully erudite fashion.

We couldn’t let vitamin D run away with all the attention so the other important micronutrients iodine, folate and iron also get guernseys. The discussion of nutrition would be incomplete without mentioning eating disorders, hyperemesis and the management of the vegetarian. For those interested in the menopausal patient, a review of the management of osteoporosis is likewise excellent.

‘We are what we eat’ and, in many circumstances, rather what wedon’t eat, so hopefully with the help of this issue we will be able to make some sense of the potential for deficiencies particularly in our pregnant patients. As you can see this issue of O&G Magazine is more about depletion than repletion, which was covered in our Summer 2008 issue. However, there are also articles on infant nutrition, about which we should be conversant, therapeutic uses for complementary medicines and even chocolate – who would have ever thought? Perhaps there is hope for Australian company Darrell Lea yet!

Once again our authors have done themselves and us proud and we thank them for their considerable time and effort in allowing us to be more aware of the aforementioned sentiment of the legendary Hippocrates.