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How Can I Get Enough Vitamin D?
When we think of “vitamins,” we know they’re super-important for health. But vitamin D is special.
It’s difficult to get enough of this vitamin; therefore, it is a very common deficiency.
So, let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The three ways to get this key vitamin are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing foods, and through supplements.
Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need?
The ‘sunshine vitamin’ (explained below) helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. It can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.
Not getting enough of this critical vitamin can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The “official” minimum amount to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health.
Because you want to ensure you get adequate amounts, you can implement any combination of the three sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.
How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?
Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun; that’s why it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”How much vitamin your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week.Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and in some locations (and seasons of the year) it’s not easy to get sun exposure.
How can I get this vitamin from food?
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. Some mushrooms also make it when they’re exposed to the sun.
Some foods are “fortified” with vitamin D (which means it has been added). These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yoghurt.
Because this vitamin is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course).Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU each day; this is why vitamin D3 supplements are quite popular.
How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?
It’s easy enough to just “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount, plus a bit extra. Vitamin D3 is the recommended supplement as it is the most bioavailable (able to enter our cells the most easily).
But before you take vitamin D3 containing supplements, make sure you check that it won’t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. And, always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.
Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label, except under medical care.
Maximum recommended amount (for the general population) is 4,000-5000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.
The best thing, if you’re concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels. There are three ways to get enough: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.
I’ve given you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU of this critical vitamin daily.
If you’re concerned, it’s best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what’s right for you. Always take supplements as directed.