Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D, often called the “sunshine vitamin”, becomes a popular topic of conversation every few years, often leaving the population wondering what it is and if it’s something they should be supplementing. Very few dietary sources contain vitamin D but those that do include wild fish, liver, eggs, and fortified milk and cereals. Vitamin D is unique because it’s made in our skin after exposure to sunlight.
Almost every cell in our body has a receptor for vitamin D which is why when levels are too low or too high a range of health conditions can arise. When vitamin D is too low, it’s linked to muscle and bone loss, low immunity, depression, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Conversely, when vitamin D is too high, it can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, stomach pains, diarrhea, constipation and even kidney failure.
So when should you get tested? In Canada, we make zero vitamin D from the sunlight from the months of November to March – the sun just isn’t strong enough! Factor in the amount of time spent indoors at work, along with sunscreen use, and most Canadians aren’t getting enough sun exposure to make adequate levels. In 2010, it was announced that OHIP would no longer be covering vitamin D testing unless you had specific medical conditions (kidney disease, osteoporosis, malabsorption etc). They found testing to not be “medically necessary” as almost all Canadians were coming back deficient.
Not all vitamin D supplements are equal; vitamin D that is emulsified in a fat is much better absorbed than vitamin D in capsule or pill form. This is especially important for those with difficulty digesting fats, have had their gallbladder removed, etc.
It is important to chat with your healthcare provider to see if vitamin D testing and supplementation is right for you! If you’ve been supplementing for years or if you’ve never supplemented before, it’s helpful to have your levels tested to determine if vitamin D supplementation is required and what the appropriate dose is.
Our Naturopathic Doctors can requisition blood work to get your vitamin D levels tested for $35 (plus lab fee) and help you choose a quality vitamin D supplement if necessary!