Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because we are able to make the vitamin when our skin is exposed to the sun! Unfortunately this is not true for us here from October to April due to the angle of the sun. The vitamin is best known for its role in bone health as it helps us absorb calcium. New emerging research also suggests that Vitamin D may play a role in fighting infections, lowering heart disease risk factors, helping reduce risk of diabetes, multiple sclerosis and certain types of cancer. The research is still not clear here, and more is needed, however there may be exciting findings to watch for!
Vitamin D is not found in many foods. It naturally occurs in fatty fish and egg yolks. It is added to some foods like milk, fortified milk alternatives, margarines and some yogurts. You will find that wild Pacific salmon has the highest amount of Vitamin D (approximately 600 IU per 2.5 oz.); this is almost triple the amount as compared to Atlantic salmon!
Wondering if you are at risk of being deficient? Certain groups need to supplement with Vitamin D. Breastfed babies need a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU/day (from birth to age 1). Health Canada recommends that all adults over 50 years need a daily Vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. If you have certain medical conditions like Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis or celiac disease, you may have trouble absorbing vitamin D so you may need a supplement. If you are concerned you may be deficient, have a conversation with your doctor; get a Dietitian to look at your meal plan to help you decide.
Remember – you can get too much of a good thing! Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, therefore there is potential for us to get to toxic levels. Right now, the recommendation is for adults not to go over 4000 IU /day. (The current recommendations for Vitamin D are: 600 IU for children and adults 9 – 70 years; and 800 IU for people 71+ years).
What is the bottom line? Focus on Vitamin D rich foods in your diet; casual exposure to the sun will contribute to your vitamin D status (from May – September); if you think you may need a supplement to meet your needs, NOW is a good time to talk to your health care professionals- your doctor, dietitian and pharmacist. There is much debate in the scientific community over how much vitamin D we need and it is time for you to start having this conversation for your health!
To YOUR health!
I am super passionate about helping people understand the science of food and making it work for them. I love coming up with healthy and tasty meals for my family and sharing them with you!
Have a question? Need nutrition advice? Want a meal plan designed just for you? Just ask me!Contact Laurie