Most people know of vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin because that is where we as humans traditionally got most of our vitamin D from, and as the days continue to grow shorter and colder here in Manitoba, we all inevitably begin getting deficient in the sunshine vitamin. That is, unless we do something about it!
And why should we? Well, how about the fact that literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies have firmly established vitamin D deficiency as a significant causal factor in immune system related illnesses ranging from seasonal cold and flu, to heart disease, to cancer, to atopic and autoimmune disorders? Evidence even suggests that it is involved in the triple current childhood epidemic of autism, asthma, and autoimmune (type 1) diabetes. Do I have your attention yet?
So, the question is, can we ‘Manisnowbans’ actually attain sufficient vitamin D levels without supplementation? The short answer for most of us is no. We utilize approximately 4000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day, and in order to get that much from sunlight we would need to have direct summer month sun exposure on our arms and legs for a minimum of 10-15 minutes per day (without sunscreen). Since most of us spend the majority of our time inside or covered up when outside, especially during the winter months, we’re going to need to supplement with another source of vitamin D.
The only way to know what your vitamin D levels are is a blood test which measures serum levels of 25(OH)D, which should be between 40-60 ng/ml. As you may know, I enjoy being outdoors and almost never wear sunscreen (other than shade), and when I got my levels tested during the summer months, to my surprise they were still on the low side.
So, other than sunshine, where can we get our vitamin D from and how much should we take? Fortunately, vitamin D is one of the most affordable supplements on the market. I believe that it is the only supplement that I sell for $15, and that gets you 100 tablets of 1000 IU per tablet. Recommended intakes are 1000 IUs/day for children and 2000 IUs for adults.
Another supplement widely recognized as one of the best source of dietary vitamin D is a high quality cod liver oil supplement. Besides vitamin D, it is also a great source of vitamin A and healthy fats. Be aware though that many cod liver oil supplements have had the naturally occurring vitamins replaced with synthetic ones, which carries a greater risk of toxicity. Carlson’s brand is high quality and easy to find in most places.