Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin

by updated 2010/02/06

Recently vitamin D has taken over the nutrition news.  Many have known about this important vitamin and its benefits for years, but the media is just now catching on. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that the human body can make. If you are getting a limited amount of sunshine a few times a week, your body is manufacturing this vitamin.  But, are you getting enough?  The consensus seems to be that in almost all cases, the answer is no.  The “official” recommendation seems to vary, but is usually considered too low for optimal benefit.  Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends a much higher daily dose, even saying that he does not know of “single physical factor that could improve your health more than understanding and applying what we now know about vitamin D”.

I thought about saying how much extra I take daily, but because I have never had my levels tested and I am just guessing as to how much extra I really need, I think the amount I take is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion.  I do take extra and I do work outside so my levels are hopefully adequate, but I am by no means sure about it.  Even working outside every day, I wear long sleeves, a hat and long pants so any benefit from the sun may be limited in my case.  I also eat some oily fish, including anchovies, salmon, and tuna.  But eating too much fish can be problematic because of the levels of metals and other contaminants it can contain.

I know it can be hard to sort through all the hype offered by sites and companies selling vitamin supplements, but in the case of Vitamin D I think you should take a close look at whether you are getting enough.  The answer is most likely a resounding “no” and the solution is to take a daily supplement.  In order to know how much you should supplement, it is recommended that you get regular blood tests to determine your body’s levels.  This is impractical for most people so we just assume we need to take a supplement and pretty much guess at the amount we should take.  Fortunately vitamin D toxicity seems to be relatively rare and the reality is that most people, even with supplementation, are not reaching the optimal levels of vitamin D in their body.

I thought about saying how much extra I take daily, but because I have never had my levels tested and I am just guessing as to how much extra I really need, I think the amount I take is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion.  I do take a supplement and I do work outside so my levels are hopefully adequate.  By I am by no means sure about it.  Even working outside every day, I wear long sleeves, a hat and long pants so any benefit from the sun may be limited in my case.  So what to do?

My best recommendation is advice I should really take myself.  (Isn’t that always the truth!!??)  Get tested.  Then develop a strategy to get your levels up to those that have been shown to provide health benefits.  Then get retested to make sure you are achieving your goals.  With all the benefits a higher level of vitamin D has been shown to provide, we all need to take another look at whether we have adequate levels in our bodies.

Will Sig

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