How important is Vitamin D? Vitamin D is essential for development, growth, optimal health and function. It is involved in proper muscle, immune and nerve function. However, studies have linked a deficiency in this important vitamin to cardiovascular disease, cancer, blood disorders, skin diseases and neurological conditions.
Vitamin D is actually a series of vitamins that act more like hormones. The most important forms of the vitamin for humans are D2 (mostly synthesized from plants) and D3 (synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight). D3 is the most usable form in humans.
Unfortunately, over 90% of Canadians will be deficient in at some point in the year. This is mostly due to our lack of sun exposure in the winter months. The amount of daily sun exposure required to synthesized adequate amounts of Vitamin D is equivalent to 15 minutes of midday sun exposure over 50% of your skin.
To put that in perspective: You need to be standing outside, in shorts and a T-shirt at lunch time for at least fifteen minute every day in order to get adequate sun exposure. Obviously, this would be very uncomfortable in Winnipeg from October to April.
So what’s the solution? While some vitamin D is available from foods like dairy, meats and fatty fish, food sources will not provide enough Vitamin D. For proper function, a healthy human body utilizes around 3,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D per day. As a result, you will need to supplement with Vitamin D3 over the winter months.
The Vitamin D Council of Canada makes the following recommendations:
• Healthy children under the age of 1 years – 1,000 IU.
• Healthy children over the age of 1 years – 1,000 IU per every 25 lbs of body weight.
• Healthy adults and adolescents – at least 5,000 IU.
• Pregnant and lactating mothers – at least 6,000 IU.
These values are much higher that the current recommended daily intake of 800-1000IU and you should always consult with your primary health care provider before supplementing. Vitamin D tests are readily available and are the best way to determine if you are