Unlocking the Secrets of Vitamin D

Hands grasping at the sun

For the past few years vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin” has been gaining a lot of traction for it’s benefits to our health and how deficiencies have been associated with certain health conditions. Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin, for one we get this vitamin by being exposed to the sun; our body then synthesizes it so that it may be used by our cells for various functions in our bodies, for this reason Vitamin D acts like a hormone, Vitamin D as a hormone assists with the absorption of calcium, helping to build strong bones, teeth and muscles. Obtaining proper amounts of vitamin D is necessary for our health but for some it may be a bit more difficult, at this point supplementation may be recommended.

Factors that may affect your vitamin D levels:

– Where you live: those that live in northern climates have greater difficulty in achieving their daily requirements for vitamin D unless they supplement. As mentioned, we get our Vitamin D from sun exposure, since here in Manitoba our winters last about six months there’s no way that we are running outside in T-shirt and shorts when it’s 50 below outside.

– Your weight: Studies have shown that being obese is correlated with low vitamin D levels and that being overweight may affect the bioavailability of vitamin D.

– Skin color: people with darker complexions have a harder time absorbing vitamin D due to their natural skin pigmentation. Melanin which gives us our array of skin colors can block UVB from being absorbed, therefore those with darker skin tones have to spend longer amounts of time outside that our lighter skinned counterparts.

– Gut health. The health of our gut plays a huge role in our health, we need it to ensure that nutrients are being absorbed, when it’s not in tip top shape deficiencies may occur. Vitamin D that is absorbed by our small intestine. Stomach juices, bile from the liver and the integrity of the intestinal wall all influence how vitamin D is absorbed.

So how can we ensure that we have sufficient amounts of Vitamin D in our bodies? If you are affected by any of the about mentioned factors, then you may want to be tested for vitamin D deficiencies by your health care provider.

If deficiencies are low, they may recommend the following:

– The sun: The best time to bask in the sun is in the middle of the day, exposing bare skin to the sunshine will allow your body to produce vitamin D for use. For a fair skinned person, it may take as little as 15 mins to get the daily needed amount of vitamin D, for darker skinned persons it may take about an hour or so. Be careful to not allow the skin to burn as this may cause skin damage.

– Supplementation: supplements for vitamin D are abundant, you can choose from soft gels to oral sprays. Typically, most vitamin D supplements are measured in 1000/IU (international units) A word of caution: vitamin D is stored in fat cells in the body, here it remains inactive until it is needed by the body. However, over supplementing can cause vitamin D toxicity, therefore it is prudent to follow your health care providers instructions of dosage.

– Food sources: yes! you can obtain vitamin D through food sources; you would have to eat a lot of said food but every little bit helps. Foods rich in Vitamin D include: eggs, butter and cheese, fatty fish such as tuna; mackerel; sardines and salmon. Wild mushrooms can also synthesize vitamin D; however, this is in the form of vitamin D2, our bodies are better adapted to using vitamin D3, also before foraging for wild mushrooms, please please please consult an expert! Beef liver is also a great source of vitamin D, not the most palatable for some people but a great source and you also get the added bonus of Vitamin A!

As the summer months are upon us, take the time to spend time outdoors and soak up those sunrays! Your body will be most thankful!!

If you have any questions please give our office a call!

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.



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