Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin. It’s actually not a vitamin but a pro-hormone. It’s called a vitamin because it’s something we need to get every day. We get it from sunshine but many of us work in offices, live in Canada, lather ourselves with sunscreen and therefore are often deficient.
The sun has gotten a bad rap lately and is often deemed as evil. Therefore, many people are covering themselves with toxic chemical laden sunscreens to prevent getting a sunburn. But there are many dangers of not getting enough sun. In fact observational studies show that a higher vitamin D status, higher dietary vitamin D intake, and greater sunlight exposure have been associated with a decreased incidence of colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer, and a lower incidence of total cancers.
Vitamin D has functions all throughout your body. It helps your gut absorb calcium and phosphorous which makes it very important for bone health. It doesn’t build bone but helps your body absorb the nutrients needed to build bones. It is also important for healthy adrenal glands and blood sugar control. It is also involved in brain and nervous system development and functioning. This is why some people feel their mood is better in the summer as they are spending time outdoors.
Vitamin D also supports healthy:
Vitamin D may also be useful for preventing and/or treating the following conditions:
It is important to work with your practitioner to determine how much Vitamin D your body may need depending on your digestion, your health concerns, your skin tone, where you live and how much sun you get.
You should be aiming to get 20 minutes up to 2 hours of sun exposure to large portions of your skin 3-7 times a week during the summer. It’s important to start slowly in the spring and work up to this exposure time so that you don’t get a sunburn. This should ideally happen in bright midday sunlight.
Those that have darker pigmented skin will require more time in the sun to increase Vitamin D levels. So bare as much as you can and go for a walk over lunch. Plus you get in some exercise as well…. Bonus!
Ideally, get out in the sun for long enough to get your vitamin D and then cover up with loose clothing and a hat.
Melanoma, the most dangerous cancer of the skin may not be related to sun exposure. Recent studies suggest it can be caused by Vitamin D and omeg-3 deficiency. Although there is an increased risk for those with a history of sunburns.
Don’t risk getting a sunburn. So if you are going to be out in the sun long enough that you may burn, ensure you cover up with loose clothing and a hat. Sunscreen is carcinogenic so if you are going to use it look for a product that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Look for a non-toxic sunscreen on the Environmental Working Group website.
Liver has the highest amount of Vitamin D as that is where Vitamin D is stored in the body. Grandma may have known what she was doing when she gave her kids cod liver oil.
Here are some other foods with Vitamin D (I would not recommend using cows milk for vitamin D as it is inflammatory affects blood sugars)
Remember to supplement as little as possible but as much as is necessary.
If you are going to supplement with Vitamin D then the only way to determine the correct dose is to get your blood tested. Alberta has new restrictions on ordering Vitamin D levels. A physician can only order a vitamin D level for certain disease processes. This is unfortunate as Vitamin D deficiency is related to so many conditions. But we all have the option to take more control of our own health. Vitamin D testing is available for a fee through a naturopath or nutritionist. If you have any of the conditions listed above and are looking to optimize your health visit come visit me, I would be honored to assist you with testing and ensure your Vitamin D is tailored to your needs.
Shonda Holt BScN, RN, C.H.N Holistic Nutritionist
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