Health Talk
Past Issues:

A New Look at the Sunshine Vitamin “D”

SUnflowerThere was a reason for our grandparents taking a daily dose of “cod liver oil”. The strong, rather unpleasant tasting oil contains almost half of Health Canada’s daily dose of vitamin D. But today, many Canadians are at risk of not getting enough of this important vitamin. There are now, many other options to cod liver oil (although you can buy it in pill form), but here’s why it’s important to get your “daily D”.

Essential for health and fighting disease
Vitamin D has always been known for keeping bones and teeth healthy. But recent research suggests that vitamin D may also have benefits in fighting infections, reducing heart disease risk factors, and preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancers (especially colorectal cancer).

Doesn’t the sun give us enough?
Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because our skin is able to make the vitamin when exposed to the sun. But not all of us convert the sun’s rays in the same quantity. Lighter skin, for example, absorbs vitamin D more easily than darker skin. And in winter climates where people remain indoors most days, there’s a risk that none of us get enough.

Too much vitamin D is not a good thing so you have to be careful. Many nutritionists recommend a simple blood test so you have an exact idea as too how much you should take.

What are food sources of vitamin D?
There are a few foods that have vitamin D and several that contained added vitamin-D.

  • Eggs yolks and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna, naturally contain substantial amounts of vitamin D.
  • Cow’s milk, infant formula, and margarine have added vitamin D as required by the Canadian government.
  • Other common foods that are made with vitamin D-fortified milk include yogurt and cheese. Some fortified orange juices also have vitamin D added.

Check out the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to see if a packaged food has vitamin D. A food has a lot of vitamin D if it has at least 15% Daily Value (DV) for vitamin D per serving.

How much?
Health Canada says Canadians should take from 200 to 600 International Units of vitamin D a day for good bone health. The Canadian Cancer Society, however, recommends 1,000 units because of the role research now believes the vitamin has in preventing certain cancers.

Like all good health factors that nourish our body and mind, we need to work vitamin D into our daily routine where it will become almost second-nature – ensuring us lasting good health.