by Megan Barefoot, C.H.N.N. (www.noshoesnutrition.com)
Vitamin D – What is it and Why do I need it?
I keep hearing that summer is coming. Spring is apparently here but there is still snow in the forecast!! This gets me thinking about Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin. I am supposed to be able to make this essential vitamin in my body by getting exposure to the sun. But, I live in the great white north so is it possible to get enough vitamin D from the sun when there are very few days when the sun seems to shine?
I guess we should first discuss what vitamin D is. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a key role in almost all our physiological functions. As an immune system regulator, vitamin D is vital to vibrant health helping with flues and colds. Although there are many forms of vitamin D, the two most common types are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2. Vitamin D is one of the most undervalued nutrients in the world since most people assume they are getting enough from the sun.
Vitamin D helps with:
- Healthy bones and teeth
- Mental health and brain function
- Immunity and Autoimmunity
- Weight and appetite
- Gut Health!!
Although sunlight is one source of vitamin D, there are very few individuals who get enough exposure to reap the benefits and receive adequate levels of vitamin D. In addition, excessive time in the sun can increase the risk of skin cancer.
So, that all being said, how are we supposed to get enough vitamin D to support our health? While experts agree that vitamin D is crucial, there is some controversy over the best way to get it. While some say exposure to the sun is enough, others encourage a supplement regimen.
Can you get vitamin D from food? To get vitamin D from foods, include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines in your diet. Cod liver oil boasts high vitamin D levels, but also contains a lot of vitamin A, this is a concern if you are pregnant or trying to conceive so please be aware it may be toxic in large amounts. Other foods packed with vitamin D are eggs (especially the yolk), raw milk, select yogurt brands, and cheese products.
What about the sun? Can we get enough vitamin D from the sun? Exposing your body to sunlight is the simplest way to get vitamin D. Those with fair skin require about 45 minutes of exposure, while those with darker skin may require up to three hours a week to maintain sufficient levels. Keep in mind that weather conditions affect proper exposure, so be on the lookout for clouds and smog!
There are vitamin D supplements. Do those work? In Northern areas with limited sunlight, supplementation is a common way to get enough vitamin D. High quality multivitamins contain approximately 50 – 1,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D in each capsule or tablet. It is important that you look for Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol as studies show that it is the same as the vitamin D made by the body. If you are considering supplements, check in with your primary care physician before starting a regimen especially if you are on any medications!
Want to get even healthier? Do you want to know more about what vitamin D can do for your health? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!