• By: Keith Whittier

Are you Getting Enough Vitamin D?

As our Canadian cold weather trickles in and the days become shorter, getting your daily dose of sunlight can become a challenge. While curling up at home with your favourite blanket all winter might sound like a great idea, it can also hurt your vitamin D intake. Many Canadians are low in vitamin D and may not even know it.

But what exactly is vitamin D and why do we need it? Vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium to keep our bones healthy. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is a crucial nutrient for several metabolic processes that support things like our immune system, muscles, nerves and digestion. Since vitamin D comes directly from the sun, we often don’t get enough in the summer moths either, as sunscreen blocks its absorption as well.

Keeping strong bones and preventing osteoporosis is important. It reduces the risk of fractures, prevents falls, keeps our posture strait and our spine strong. As we age, our skin’s ability to absorb Vitamin D also decreases, which is why it is important to get it from sources other than the sun.

We cannot get enough vitamin D through food sources alone. However, there are several foods that contain it and can help you reach daily intake recommendations. For example, foods considered high in vitamin D include cow’s milk, fortified soy and rice beverage, fortified orange juice, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, margarine, egg yolks and fortified yogurts.

In Canada, since it is tricky to get enough vitamin D through food and direct sunlight, The Osteoporosis Canada foundation recommends regular vitamin D supplementation for all adults in Canada all year around.

Direct sunlight is one of the best vitamin D sources you can find, but it’s not always available.

Many calcium supplements contain vitamin D. Check your current vitamins’ label to see if you are meeting the recommended dose. Keep in mind that there are two forms of Vitamin D that can help with strong bones. They are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Also, since you do not have to take this vitamin with food, you can conveniently take it whenever it’s convenient throughout the day.

So, how much should we be supplementing?  Osteoporosis Canada also suggests; “Healthy adults between 19-50 years of age, including pregnant or breast feeding women, require 400 – 1,000 IU daily. Those over 50 or those younger adults at high risk (with osteoporosis, multiple fractures, or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption) should receive 800 – 2,000 IU daily. These amounts are safe.  Taking more than 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily should be done only under medical supervision.” In conclusion, the average Canadian adult would be smart to take about 1000 IU’s of vitamin D per day.

You can find out more information about the Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre here.