How Can You Get Enough Vitamin D and How Much is Safe?

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Most of us know that getting vitamin D is important for bone health and absorption of calcium. But, vitamin D is also important for a:

  • healthy immune system,

  • digestive system,

  • heart and mental health,

  • blood sugar regulation,

  • fertility, and

  • resistance to cancer.

FUN FACT: Inflammation is mostly caused by the response of our immune system.

To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned below on a weekly basis.

  1. exposure to the sun,

  2. consuming vitamin D containing food (not so much available), and

  3. through supplements

Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin makes it when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D acts like a hormone! That means it’s produced in one part of the body (e.g. the skin), and travels through to act on another part (e.g. the bones).

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, when you have more than enough, it gets stored in the liver, and isn’t flushed out in the urine like water soluble vitamins such as B and C.

It’s also the most common nutrient deficiency!

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How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?

Our skin contains “pre” vitamin D. When exposed to UV rays from the sun, this “previtamin” is converted into vitamin D (calciferol).  That's why it's referred to as the "sunshine vitamin."

How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D 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.

How can I get enough vitamin D from food?

Vitamin D is not naturally found in very many foods. The best sources include:

  • fatty fish and fish liver oils
  • some is also found in beef liver
  • some cheeses
  • and egg yolk

Because these are animal sources, they are in the D3 form. Some are even already converted into 25(OH)D which is thought to be 5 times more potent than the regular D3 form.

Naturally occurring plant sources of vitamin D2 are some mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun. That’s about it

Some foods are "fortified" (which means vitamin D has been added).

  • milk
  • some orange juices
  • breakfast cereals
  • yogurt

It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (ie. healthy fat such as olive oil).

Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are needed.


LINK:  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-surveillance/health-nutrition-surveys/canadian-community-health-survey-cchs/canadian-adults-meet-their-nutrient-requirements-through-food-intake-alone-health-canada-2012.html#a331

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How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?

Having enough 25(OH)D in the blood is associated with higher bone density. Studies show that supplementing with vitamin D may reduce the risk of falls and bone fractures

FUN FACT: Fish liver oil contains vitamin D, but not fish oil - it’s the liver that stores vitamin D.

At higher doses, however, vitamin D2 is less potent than vitamin D3.

But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won't interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.

Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.

The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 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.

Conclusion

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D.  

There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.

I've given you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU or vitamin D 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.

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