The Wonderful Vitamin D


With winter in full force in Toronto, many of us are craving the warm sun. Have you ever wondered why most people feel happier during the summer months or when the sun is out? Well, vitamin D has been labeled the "feel good vitamin" as it has been shown to improve people's mood during the cold winter months when more time is spent indoors and there is less sun exposure. Vitamin D has numerous health benefits, which encompass building stronger bones and protecting against diseases like cancer, diabetes, depression, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. 

Could you be vitamin D deficient? 
 
Problems converting vitamin D from food or sunshine can set you up for a deficiency. Factors that increase your risk include:

  • Darker skin
  • 50 years of age or older 
  • A northern home (anywhere North of 37° N Latitude; Florida is 26° North and Toronto is 43.7° North)
  • Overweight or obese
  • Milk allergy or lactose intolerance
  • Liver or digestive diseases, such as Crohn's or celiac disease

How do we get vitamin D from the sun?
When the sun shines on bare skin, your body makes its own vitamin D. This is the major source of vitamin D, but it's not enough for many people. However, most of us do not get enough bare skin exposure on a daily basis. Cloudy days, long winter months and the use of sunscreen all decrease our ability to get adequate vitamin D from the sun.

Foods with vitamin D:
Few foods contain adequate amounts of vitamin D and from an evolutionary perspective it was expected that Vitamin D be obtained from sunshine. However, there are a few foods, which contain vitamin D
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Cod liver oil
  • Spinach 
  • Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice (watch out for added preservatives)

Vitamin D Supplementation: 
Depending on the reasons why you are taking Vitamin D the dose can vary a lot. It is important to get your serum (blood) levels checked before you begin taking supplemental Vitamin D. You can do this by getting a blood test ran called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Ideal serum levels are 90-100nmol/L.

For people who want to take vitamin D in pill or liquid form, there are two kinds: D2 (Ergocalciferol), which is the type found in food and is synthesized by plants, and D3 (Cholecalciferol), which is the type made from sunlight (UVB rays). Vitamin D and D3 are produced differently and are not bio-equivalents. Based on pharmacokinetic research studies and clinical evidence vitamin D3 is preferred.

Most multivitamins have 400 IU of vitamin D, which is what Health Canada recommends. However, to reach optimal levels, for cancer prevention, and for those at increased risk, at least 1000IU daily is recommended. Check with your health care provider to discuss your use of vitamin D supplements and dose. 

My favorite way to boost vitamin D levels is to take a sunny vacation! So with winter sticking around for another few months a sunny trip can provide numerous benefits to you!

Best in health,
Kate 

References
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/ss/slideshow-vitamin-d-overview
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100303162854.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-d/NS_patient-vitamind
All images taken from www.corbisimages.com 

1 comments:

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