For the HEAL readers that are in Ontario right now, this post is especially for you, though it’s still important for everyone! It seems that here in Ontario, Mother Nature has forgotten that it’s April, and that it should be SPRING! With spring usually comes more sunshine, patio weather, outdoor activities and overall just more time spent in the sun. As we aren’t spending as much time outdoors right now, it’s important to not to forget about Vitamin D.
Here are the top two reasons why Vitamin D is critical:
Bone formation: Vitamin D increases calcium absorption. Without enough Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus levels are leached from the bones, leading to osteomalacia and osteoporosis.
Immune Function: There are studies* that show an inverse relationship between Vitamin D levels and respiratory tract infections and the flu. This was the first winter I took Vitamin D all winter and didn’t get the flu once! (No flu shot either).
Sources of Vitamin D:
Sunlight: The amount of time you need in the sun varies based on your skin pigmentation, but it’s often not much – 10 to 15 minutes. There are arguments as to whether or not sunscreen blocks the absorption of Vitamin D, so my thought is that if it’s 15-30 minutes in the sun, go without the sunscreen, but if it’s more, you probably want to wear it.
Some food sources: Cod liver oil, swordfish and wild salmon are all good sources. Sardines, goat’s milk, and eggs are moderate sources.
Supplements: There are two forms of D supplements – D2 which is plant based and D3 which is animal based. Most articles that I’ve read suggest D3 is the better form to supplement with.
Since I don’t always get the daily dose of sunshine I need, I take 1000-2000 IU daily of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins, as are (A, E & K), so is best taken with a fat for absorption (like your omegas, or with a salad dressing).
Lastly, as the body ages, Vitamin D production in the skin decreases, so it’s even more important to supplement the older you are.
So for everyone out there enjoying spring, make sure to maximize your time in the sun! For those of you in Ontario, don’t forget about the other sources of Vitamin D!