Vitamin D - It has been a large topic within the health food world; many are taking a supplement, many are wondering if they should start taking one. Well, lets dig into it a little more.
What is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (many people consider it a hormone). What that means is that is absorbs better in the body when combined with a fat- That’s why you will find that I recommend a capsule or a liquid over a tablet- they have the fat combined with it already!
Vitamin D is essential for MANY functions within our body- It is important for skin health, muscles, immune health, brain, cardiovascular health and most commonly talked about- bone health.
Major Roles of Vitamin D
-stimulates absorption of calcium
-growth and development of bones and teeth
-prevention of rickets in children
-prevents against muscle weakness
-helps regulate heartbeat
-important for prevention of osteoporosis
-necessary for proper thyroid function
-necessary for proper blood clotting
Can we get enough Vitamin D Naturally?
The answer is- possibly yes, probably no.
There are two questions we should think about before going into more detail is- How much Vitamin D do you need, and how do you get vitamin D naturally?
How much Vitamin D you require daily will honestly depend on who you ask. There is some debate on if the levels on the Canadian Daily Recommended Intake is accurate enough (as there is a debate with every other nutrient).
Health Canada’s Daily Recommended Intake:
Safe Upper Limit of 4000IU
Many experts argue that this is simply not enough daily intake of Vitamin D for Canadians- stating that there are many outside factors that make individuals need a higher amount of vitamin D.
The typical Vitamin D supplement that you will find is a 400IU dose for children and a 1000IU dose for Adults.
Experts also argue that weight, age, and skin tone play a factor in the amount of vitamin d an individual should have per day.
The average recommendation for supplementing is 1000-2000IU of Vitamin D per day- some Doctors and Naturopaths will prescribe higher or more specific doses depending on your current situation- please talk to a health professional to see what is right for you.
How can you Naturally absorb Vitamin D?
The skin is the biggest Vitamin D source. You may have heard Vitamin D be referred to as “The Sunshine Vitamin”- that’s because our main source of Vitamin D comes from the UV exposure of the sun.
Your best sources of Vitamin D are fish sources- cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, eggs, and you will find foods fortified with Vitamin D like milk, juices, cereals, and yogurt.
It’s important to note that individuals with liver or kidney disorders may not benefit fully from food sources of Vitamin D as they have a hard time converting the Vitamin D to its active form.
So the big question is- Can we get enough from Natural Sources?
Like I said earlier- possibly, but probably not. Here’s why.
Limited Sun Exposure
When was the last time you went outside naked? Okay okay, when was the last time you went outside without sunscreen, or a hat, or a long sleeve shirt, or your face and bare skin exposed?
Now was it between the hours of 10am and 2pm and was it multiple times per week for 5-15 minutes?
There is another argument that Canada is just not close enough to the sun (specifically in the winter months) to even get proper Vitamin D synthesis. So are you going out on a sunny day unprotected from harmful rays for no reason? That is a decision you have to make for yourself. You also need to factor in how many days Canada has overcast.
Limited Food Sources
I highly doubt you eat fish every day (but if you do, wow good for you!) not to mention you would have to eat 12 eggs every day to get 1000IU of vitamin D, 1000 cups of milk, or 12 cans of tuna. If that sounds reasonable to you- go for it!
So Should We Supplement Vitamin D?
If you asked me, I would say that I take a Vitamin D supplement daily. I would recommend you look at your daily lifestyle and eating habits, as well as check out the quality of your multivitamin (blog post about choosing a multivitamin coming soon). If you are unsure please talk to a Health Professional for guidance.
It’s inexpensive and combined with a fat you know you are absorbing what you need. Many multivitamins contain Vitamin D- I would check to see if it has 1000IU (25mcg) and and that it is a Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) form for optimal absorption.
Also check any other supplements that you may be taking - most bone complexes will have Vitamin D added already.
A Few Things to Note About Vitamin D
Supplements are not always Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Typical Vitamin D supplements come from lanolin- which is not vegan/vegetarian friendly. Unless otherwise stated, Vegans and Vegetarians should be informed that the product is not Vegan/Vegetarian. Natural Factors has a vegan Vitamin D capsule product from lichen (an algae) and Naka has a Vitamin D drops product from an algae as well.
Toxicity is Possible
Since Vitamin D is fat soluble and not water soluble like many other vitamins, you don’t just “pee them out”. This means that toxicity in large amounts over a long period of time is possible. Another reason to talk to a Health Professional before deciding to take a supplement.
I hope this answered some of your questions about Vitamin D. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate in reaching out.