Ahhh, the “Sunshine Vitamin”, the “Feel Good Vitamin”, the “Essential Vitamin!” Yes, Vitamin D is all of those and more!
“Sunshine” because when we are exposed to the sun, vitamin D is then amazingly created in our skin. (Stop covering up and slathering on the sunblock constantly when you go in the sun! Don’t be afraid, we NEED it! It’s all about moderation.)
“Feel Good” because Vitamin D is said to have a great influence on our brain and helping us just plain feel good! Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how that connection works but they have seen how it can help those with depression and seasonal affective disorder. I personally notice the difference in my mood and energy levels when I am exposed to that glorious fire ball! Maybe also because our winters are so long and we anticipate the sunshiny, warm days that much more.
“Essential” for the development of bones and teeth basically by helping us absorb and use calcium and phosphorous.
I had always been told that we get enough Vitamin D from our food so I had no need to worry. But actually there are very few foods that have therapeutic levels of naturally occurring vitamin D, and even fortified foods do not contain enough vitamin D to support our needs. (No, not even in milk! You would have to drink like 100 glasses a day!) Vitamin D can refer to different forms of this vitamin. Two forms are important in humans: vitamin D2, which is made by plants, and vitamin D3, which is made by human skin when exposed to sunlight.
I was reading a naturopathic article that suggests adequate amounts of vitamin D can significantly reduce the threats of diseases. Such as a wide range of cancers (breast, ovarian, colon, lymphoma, kidney, endometrial), type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, high blood pressure, seasonal affective disorder, and heart attacks. So why are we not being told this? Prevention is key!
As important as this is, most of us are deficient and don’t even know it. Researchers estimate that more than 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Personally, I think that estimate is modest and would guess that almost all Canadians are deficient! Because there are few obvious symptoms before things are problematic, it might be a good idea to get a vitamin D serum test done to see what your levels are and how well you are absorbing it. Also important to know, if you have any gastrointestinal issues (like celiac, chrohn’s, or irritable bowel) you will probably have difficulty absorbing Vitamin D. As it is a fat-soluble vitamin and those mentioned can’t absorb fat. This one I learnt after a visit to my naturopath! Unfortunately, Manitoba health does not cover this test anymore so you will have to pay to have it done.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency range but one that doctors routinely will check for with babies is a sweaty head. Apparently a classic symptom! Other symptoms range from chronic fatigue, to achy bones, to more serious issues like immune deficiency.
Vitamin D is available in capsule form but I personally like the Vitamin D oral spray that Innotech Nutrition offers. Offering 1000 IU’s in each spray with no sugar, salt, wheat, yeast, milk derivatives, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors or colours. The spray form is not only convenient (and tastes good) but it is also more readily absorbed by the body. How much you take really depends on how much you are needing/absorbing.
Vitamin D Fast Facts:
- SPF 15 sunscreen blocks production of vitamin D by 99%
- A UV index greater than 4 is necessary to make vitamin D
- A light skinned person in a bathing suit makes up to 15,000 IU vitamin D in 15-20 minutes in July at midday
- Darker skin requires up to 7x more sunlight exposure to make the same amount as lighter skin
- You can get vitamin D from reflected light while sitting in the shade but not through a glass window
- Rickets and osteomalacia are classic vitamin D deficiency diseases. *Rickets is a softening or weakening of the bones. *In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which causes weak bones and muscles.
Interested in knowing about the discovery of Vitamin D? Read on here: The Contribution of Adolf Windaus