Many of us think of vitamin D as the friendly sunshine vitamin, and also important for bone health. As both of these statements are true, the vitamin has a bit more of a back story to it that Canadians should be aware of.
In an ideal world, our body would get vitamin D from the sun, and as it is absorbed through our skin, our bodies convert it into the active form of the vitamin that provides health benefits. Many studies have looked at just how much vitamin D our bodies produce from the sun depending on where we live. The sad reality is the farther you live from the equator, the more of an angle the sun will be at and the less UVB available for you to produce vitamin D. Imagine a horizontal line drawn from Los Angeles across. Anywhere above that line means you cannot make enough vitamin D from the sun. And if you go even farther north (such as places in northern Canada), production is pretty much non existent.
Food would be a great place to start to get more vitamin D, however it is in very few foods and you will not get sufficient amounts from diet alone. Osteoporosis Canada recommends Canadians take a vitamin D supplement year round and to talk to your doctor about what dosage amount is adequate for you. One important thing to note, is vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it needs to be present with fat so that it can be absorbed. In summary – always take your vitamin D with meals.
Some key health benefits of vitamin D:
And the good news to top it all off is this little vitamin is very inexpensive and easy to find in most health and grocery stores. Enjoy the sunshine supplementation!
Karla Heintz (BSc) Nutrition Educator and Author of
‘Picky! Not Me Mom! A parents’ guide to children’s nutrition.