Monday, April 12, 2010

D is for the Sunshine Vitamin

There is a vitamin deficiency that affects over half of the population, is almost never diagnosed, and has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, bone loss and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

What vitamin is almost totally absent from our food supply?

Vitamin D.  Are you getting enough?

A fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin D is made in the body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun when the liver and kidneys convert it to its active hormone form, Cholecalciferol, or Vitamin D3.

A lack of sufficient Vitamin D in your body can cause the levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood to drop, causing bones to become thin, brittle, soft or even misshapen.  This is because Vitamin D’s major biologic function is to aid in the absorption of calcium.

(picture courtesy of

So what does one do to keep sufficient levels of Vitamin D in ones body?
GET OUT IN TO THE SUN!  Sunlight is the most important source of Vitamin D because the UV rays from the sunlight trigger Vitamin D synthesis in the skin. However, with all the fears out there about over exposure to UV rays, over use of sunscreen is the main reason why most people are not getting enough Vitamin D in to their systems.  80% to 100% of our Vitamin D Intake comes from the sun.  Sunscreen blocks out an amazing 97% of our body’s Vitamin D production.

Because of the changing weather and many people living in places where the sun hardly shines, supplementing with Vitamin D is essential.  The exact amount needed will vary depending on your age, how much time you spend in the sun and the time of year, Winter vs. Summer.  The government recommends 200 to 600 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D a day.  This is the amount you need to prevent rickets, a skeletal disease that weakens the bones.  But how much do you need for optimal health?  Our favorite trusted health advisor, Dr Weil, recommends up to 2,000 IU a day, once again depending on personal circumstances.

Fortified foods are the major dietary sources of Vitamin D.  For example, one cup of Vitamin D fortified milk supplies about ¼ of the estimated daily needs for this vitamin.  You should try to eat dietary sources of Vitamin D.  These include fatty fish such as wild salmon or wild mackerel, even eggs, one whole egg contains 20 IU of Vitamin D.  You can also take Vitamin D supplements, but be careful when choosing a supplement as many only contain Vitamin D2, which is not biologically active.

Although consuming too much Vitamin D is possible, it is not probable.  Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness and weight loss.  It can also raise blood levels of calcium, causing mental changes such as confusion.  Consuming too much Vitamin D through diet alone is not likely unless you routinely consume large amounts of cod liver oil, which in our opinion would be hard to do.  It is more likely to occur from high intakes of Vitamin D in supplements, so consult a doctor before beginning a Vitamin D regiment.

Get out into the sun as much as you can, be conscience of the amount of sunscreen you use and eat foods high in Vitamin D3, supplementing if necessary, and you will find a healthier, Happier you! 

Here's to living your best possible life!

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