You have likely heard about the importance of getting your vitamins, and this is a great idea, Vitamin D, however, can be a bit more controversial than some. People say that we should only get it from the sun, but the sun also gives us cancer with higher exposures. Others say that we should get it from dairy products, but many of us cannot tolerate dairy. The amount of intake is also controversial. Also, what is the real importance of concerning ourselves with vitamin D, since many of us have been plugging along just fine without worrying about it?
First, the importance of vitamin D. This vitamin acts more like a hormone in the body, and is responsible for hundreds of reactions, from DNA repair to bone building to muscle health (see: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/88/2/491S/4649916. Links have even been made between lack of vitamin D in the body and viral infection, as well as worse outcomes from such infection so keeping our vitamin D levels up becomes even more important in today’s world (see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7716744/ & https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33142828/). Vitamin deficiencies can take time to accumulate and given the sheer number of things for which this particular vitamin is responsible, it can be hard to pinpoint the link between our vitamin D status and why we just don’t feel or function well. Testing is available, but it’s generally a good idea for most of us to increase our intake of vitamin D.
So how do we get it? The sun seems like the most obvious source, since our skin begins to produce vitamin D during exposure to UV-B rays from the sun, and one can obtain a an entire recommended daily allowance of this vitamin with 15 minutes in the sun between 10AM and 2pm (see: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d). Unfortunately, there are many variables, just as season of the year, skin tone (darker skin tones take longer in the sun to create vitamin D), age of skin, air pollution, all of which can alter our synthesis of this vital chemical. You can calculate this on some websites, but some research indicates that most people do not fulfill our vitamin D needs even during the summer (see: https://fastrt.nilu.no/VitDez_quartMED.html & https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256341/). Dairy products are often supplemented with vitamin D, and for those who can tolerate it this can be another option. Fatty fish, too, are a great source of vitamin D, along with their benefits toward inflammation. To reach our recommended daily intake, this would amount to about 15-20 ounces of salmon each day (see: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/)
If you are an individual who is rarely able to get out in the sun for short periods at midday, cannot tolerate dairy, and are not getting enough fish, it may be helpful to supplement. Choose a D3 supplement and take it with a meal containing some fat, which will improve absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin. Though previous recommendations were lower, newer research is pointing to a goal of at least 2000 IU’s a day to raise blood levels, so choose accordingly (see: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/7/1911/2833671).
Here at Advanced Wellness Centre in Richmond/Carytown, we carry a fantastic line of supplements and our doctors and nutrition professionals can advise you on how to get your vitamin D levels up. Visit our online shop here: https://shop.bioticsresearch.com/products/bio-dk-caps. Our holistic approach integrates this with a plan to feel and move better as the days get darker over the coming months.