How Do You Get Enough Vitamin D And Why Should You?

How Do You Get Enough Vitamin D

We know all vitamins are super-important for health, right?  But vitamin D is special.

It’s common for vitamin D to be deficient in people because it’s difficult to get enough of it.

The three ways to vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing food, and through supplements. 

Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need?

Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal effective disorder so you can see it’s really important for our health.

Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia, which is a condition where the bones are soft and weak. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The “official” minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health.

To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.

How to get vitamin D from the sun?

Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun; that’s why it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.  “How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun.

The recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week but between the months of October and April it’s unlikely that the sun is strong enough for you to get the right exposure.  Of course, you should always avoid sunburn. 

So, how can we get enough vitamin D in other ways?

How to get vitamin D from food?

Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. Also, if you leave mushrooms in the sun (say on a window sill) they’ll increase their vitamin D naturally.

Some foods are “fortified” (which means vitamin D has been added) with vitamin D. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course).  Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are quite popular.

How to get vitamin D from supplements?

It’s easy enough to just “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra.  Older people should take extra care to always use a “senior” range of supplements to avoid taking too much of any one vitamin as requirements change with age.

Before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won’t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking.  Always read your labels and ask a healthcare professional for advice.

Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.

The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day.  Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.

The best thing, if you’re concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.

Conclusion:

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which many people find difficult to maintain adequate levels.  There are three ways to get enoug: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.

References:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_vitam_tbl-eng.php

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-vitamin-d

https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-d-101/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-sardines