It’s that time again! Time for me to remind you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and to dust off your vitamin D supplement and start taking them.
I am neither for nor against the taking of vitamins in general (assuming they are good quality) but there is one vitamin that I know we all need if we aren’t heading south for the winter. The “sunshine vitamin”, or Vitamin D.
Come September/October the UVB rays of the sun don’t reach our northern hemisphere and these are the rays we need for our bodies to produce vitamin D .
Vitamin D is best known for it’s ability to help with our bone health, without it our body can’t absorb calcium and so it steals calcium from our bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Knowing that, Vitamin D would be considered essential if it did nothing else.
But researchers have discovered that it’s active in many tissues and cells besides bone and controls an enormous number of genes, including some associated with cancers, autoimmune disease, and infection. Hardly a month goes by without news about the risks of vitamin D deficiency or about a potential role for the vitamin in warding off diseases, including breast cancer, depression, multiple sclerosis, and even schizophrenia.
What are the health effects of vitamin D deficiency?
Getting enough vitamin D may also play a role in helping to keep you healthy by protecting against the following conditions and possibly helping to treat them. These conditions can include:
- Heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Infections and immune system disorders.
- Falls in older people.
- Some types of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancers.
- Multiple sclerosis.
How much vitamin D do we need?
There is no exact number as each individual is unique. What we do know is that the older you are and the darker your skin is, the less you are able to manufacture vitamin D internally and the more important it is to supplement with it Obesity is also a factor in vitamin D deficiency. The general recommendation is 1,000-4,000 iu per day but if you want to be really precise about it, a simple blood test from your doctor will tell you what your current blood levels are and you can make an educated decision from here.
What are food sources of Vitamin D?
There are not many foods that have adequate amounts of naturally occurring vitamin D in them but many foods are supplemented. Cod liver oil is an excellent source and fatty fishes like salmon and sardines are good sources as well. Living in Canada, it would be hard to get enough from food so supplements would be highly recommended.