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Vitamin D: What You Need To Know

This vitamin is undeniably important. It supports our physiology and is not only considered a vitamin but also a hormone and a nutrient that can be found in certain foods. 



The majority of humans largely rely on the sun as their “source” of vitamin D. While many people spend most of their time indoors or live in climates where sunlight is limited in the winter - they will inevitably experience a seasonal drop in their blood levels of Vitamin D.  



Among the many benefits of vitamin D, most notable is its ability to maintain strong bones & muscle strength, its anti-inflammatory effects, its mood supporting properties, its ability to optimize immune function, promote balanced blood sugar levels, and support cardiovascular health.



How to make the most of obtaining sunlight:

To obtain the most our of sun exposure, you must regularly expose unprotected skin (no sunscreen or clothing) to the sun for at least 10 minutes early each day (preferably before 10am)  on as much skin as possible. This type of routine gives you great Vitamin D exposure but it also helps regulates your circadian rhythm — your body's internal clock!!


I must note that not all skin types synthesize vitamin D the same way. The more melanin in your skin acts as a natural SPF- preventing sun damage and preventing the skin from synthesizing as much vitamin D compared to fairer skinned people. Regardless, supplementation is an integral way to increase your vitamin D levels.



Blood testing is instrumental in determining whether your vitamin D level are normal. If you experience the “winter blues” or frequent colds, infections or the fly, or if you are post-menopausal, suffer from chronic decease or are at risk of low bone density/osteoporosis, I highly recommend having you blood levels tested. 


 


The following are ways to increase and maintain normal vitamin D levels with foods and nutritional supplements:

 

Cod liver oil

Salmon

Mushrooms

Fortified Dairy (cheddar cheese, ricotta cheese)

Sardines

Fortified orange juice

Fortified cereals

Fortified Tofu

Eggs Liver



Supplementing with Vitamin D


Being a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D is best absorbed in fat or alongside a source of fat. It is important to choose a supplement with a fat as its base. For example, coconut oil or olive oil are excellent ingredients to look for. Another great thing to look for is emulsified vitamins- meaning it will be readily absorbed into the system. 

 

Some evidence points to the fact that taking vitamin D3 versus D2 results in an rapid and sustainable increase in blood levels of vitamin D. You can also consider selecting a supplement with vitamin k2- another important nutrient that works hand in hand with vitamin D. When both of these are used simultaneously, they particularly target improving bone density. 

 

Vitamin D supplements are safe and appropriate for all ages. Get your blood tested to determine what dosage you should be taking. Or focus on changing your diet to vitamin D rich foods. 

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