During the summer, getting enough vitamin D is not a problem.  However, as the cold sets in and the only chance to see the sun is during work hours, the chances of getting enough vitamin D naturally into our bodies becomes impossible.

We normally get vitamin D through our skin from the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption and the maintenance of strong, healthy bones. Deficiencies can lead to brittle and broken bones.  It also plays a role in managing inflammation, autoimmune disease risk, heart health, and cognitive functions.  People with fair skin can get enough vitamin D during the summer by exposing their face, arms, and legs to sunlight for just five – 10 minutes several times per week when the sun is at its highest peak. People with more melanin, resulting in darker complexions, will need longer periods in the sun as melanin limits vitamin D absorption.

Here in Canada, during the winter, the sun is lower and its UVB rays are much weaker. There is no way you can get enough vitamin B during the winter’s sun.   Thankfully, you can get vitamin D from other sources.  In both Canada and the US the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is between 800-1000 IUs or 20 -25 micrograms.  The exact amount can vary depending on your age, skin colour, health conditions, and natural exposure to sunlight.

Sources of Vitamin D include, fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, sardines), cod liver oil, beef liver, egg yolks, and some mushrooms. Unfortunately, most people’s diet does not include enough of these foods. Other foods such as cow’s milk, some soymilk, cereal, and orange juice have been fortified with vitamin D as well as other vitamins and minerals.  However not all of these foods are fortified, you need to be careful and check the nutritional label if you are looking for Vitamin D.

For some people taking a supplement is the way to go. The recommendation is to take Vitamin D3 as this can be absorbed more effectively.  Before you start taking a supplement or if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, consult your doctor or health care provider to ensure you are getting the right amount from the right source.  Taking too much vitamin D can build up in your body and result in fatigue, confusion, vomiting, dehydration, constipation, and pain.

If you think a tanning salon will help, think again. Tanning beds/machines emit UVA rays, which are not linked to vitamin D.  There can also increase your risk of skin cancer.