What Is It?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus - two nutrients that are important for bone health. Some studies suggest that healthy blood levels of vitamin D may guard against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
Where do I get Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is naturally produced in our skin when it exposed to the UVB rays in sunlight. During the fall and winter months in Canada, the UVB rays aren’t always strong enough to stimulate adequate production. Since vitamin D isn’t found in many foods, a supplement is often necessary.
What About During the Summer?
Those with fair skin can usually get enough vitamin D from 15 minutes of daily unprotected sun exposure. If you have a darker complexion or spend much of the day indoors, you might need to take a supplement year round. Other factors that reduce natural vitamin D production include being over the age of 50 and diligent use of protective clothing and sunscreen when outdoors.
How Much Do I Need?
To get a personalized recommendation, it’s best to talk to your doctor or dietitian. Health Canada recommends that children over 1 year of age and adults should get 600 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Their recommendations are slightly different for infants and those over 70, for whom they recommend a daily dose of 400 IU and 800 IU, respectively. Some research suggests that these recommendations might be too low and so again, it’s best to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.