Dr. Laura – The Sunshine Vitamin

What you don’t know about vitamin D

If you live in Canada and don’t supplement, you are likely deficient in vitamin D.  How much to supplement and for how long is very individual. It is based on things like the  natural colour of the skin, immune status, food intake and time spent outdoors in the summer.

The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet light. About 20 min of unprotected exposure mid day in the summer months in Ontario will produce about 1000IU of vitamin D.

Small amounts of vitamin D may be found in food sources such as fish, egg yolk, beef liver, however, when sunlight is inadequate (no exposure or seasonal variance), supplementation is essential.

Vitamin D helps:

  • the body absorb calcium and phosphorous
  • build bone mineral matrix
  • the nerves and muscles function
  • boost the immune system
  • modulate autoimmune diseases

Vitamin D deficiency can be suspect in multiple sclerosis, cancer, pancreatic deficiency, Crohn’s, Colitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic low back pain, or severe muscle weakness.

Check your Vitamin D Status

Vitamin D levels have an optimum range, with increased risks for health disease when deficient or in excess.

OHIP no longer pays for vitamin D testing mostly because they found everyone to be deficient and suggest we all should supplement, at least through October to March. How much to supplement depends on the individual.

Recent research shows that people supplementing may have overdone it and now there are risks showing up for people who are taking vitamin D in excess. Protect from overdose by getting enough vitamin A (liver, organ meats, cod liver oil) and K2 (brie cheese!) in the diet.  Sometimes if levels are high enough, it means lowering the dose or stopping supplementation for a while.

Levels are best monitored by a blood test, then with the advice of your doctor you can be sure you are taking the amount that is right for you.

You may pay (about $45) for a basic vitamin D blood test with your Naturopathic Doctor. You may book your appointment (fees in addition to the blood test) today to investigate further.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND