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A Little More Sunshine [Vitamin] During Winter

Vitamin D clearly has the best PR team because it ended up with the most uplifting nickname out of all the nutrients: the SUNSHINE vitamin.

It’s also the owner of the most misleading name (and nickname!) because Vitamin D is more a hormone than a vitamin. It’s considered a hormone because it helps regulate the absorption of calcium in order to maintain calcium levels in the blood. It is critical for blood calcium to be within a narrow range because it's required for nerve impulses and muscle contractions, including the ones that pump the heart. Without adequate absorption of dietary calcium, your body would resort to stripping calcium from bones.

And that is a perfect segue to…

What does Vitamin D do?

Supports growth and maintenance of bones and teeth

May help protect against or lessen symptoms of depression

May help protect against cognitive decline

How can I get Vitamin D?

Vitamin D gets its joyous nickname because sunshine allows it to be synthesized in the skin. However, we would need over 10 minutes of daily direct sun exposure to achieve adequate amounts of synthesis (and even more time for individuals with darker skin); this is very difficult for people in Canada as the colder months make it difficult to spend too much time outside with exposed skin.

You can also find vitamin D in select foods, such as ones that are fortified or have the nutrient artificially added in. These include cereals, orange juice, and dairy products like milk and yogurt. Some natural sources include egg yolks and seafood, like salmon, tuna, or sardines.

For individuals that prefer to eat non-animal foods, the options are unfortunately more limited. Therefore, supplementation may be a great way to fill in those gaps.

How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?

Adults up to the age of 70 years need about 600 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day. To put that into perspective:

  • 1 large egg has 29 IU

  • 1 glass of dairy milk has 103 IU

  • 1 can of light tune has 80 IU

As you may be able to see, it can be quite difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone, even for people that are happy to eat those foods daily! Therefore, in places like Canada, supplementation is recommended for most people.

Stay nourished my friends,


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