The Sunshine Vitamin

The sun is just starting to appear here in Canada, so it seems fitting to take a look at the sunshine vitamin. These past few years, Vitamin D has been receiving more and more attention, and it’s recommended amount has increased.

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can manufacture Vitamin D3 when our skin absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the recommended form of Vitamin D to take, as it is the most bioavailable form of Vitamin D that our bodies make.

Unfortunately Vitamin D is not found in many foods. The ones it is found in are:

  • Egg yolks
  • Cow’s milk
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified cereals
  • Cheese
  • Fatty fish
  • Margarine
  • Fortified soy beverages

Evidently most of these foods come from animal sources, so vegans might have a harder time trying to get enough Vitamin D. Vegan or not, many people have low blood levels of Vitamin D. Particularly in the fall and winter months, it can be difficult to get enough sun for those of us in Canada.

Why is Vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is a vitamin that works hand-in-hand with the mineral calcium. Vitamin D improves calcium absorption, and both work together to maintain healthy bones. Additionally, Vitamin D helps to keep your muscles and nerves working properly. Vitamin D even keeps your immune system functioning optimally.

How much is enough?

Like many vitamins, you’ll want to eat enough of Vitamin D without exceeding the upper tolerable limit. Children and adults should aim for 600 IU per day, while being sure to stay below 4000 IU. Adults over 70 should aim for 800 IU per day.

Are supplements useful?

It is common to have low blood levels of Vitamin D, although your individual blood levels will depend on your location and typical diet. Visit your doctor to find out if your individual blood levels of Vitamin D are low.

Vitamin D is one of the most common vitamins adults will take a supplement for, along with Vitamin B12. Vitamin D supplements are commonly found containing anywhere from 400 – 2000 IU of Vitamin D.

So get outside today to get some of the sunshine vitamin! Your bones will thank you later.

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