Summer means soaking up the sun’s rays and spending more time outdoors. Yeah! This is great for your mood, clarity and overall health, as exposure to the sun – in particular the morning hours – is known to give you a lift. The body also creates an important vitamin, Vitamin D, from the body’s exposure to the sun. This is why Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin and why deficiency is most often seen in the winter months, when us Canadians see so little of that precious sun (some stats suggest that as many as 90% of us might be deficient!). But summer is also an important time to be aware of Vitamin D; as our levels can be below optimal even when the sun’s rays are plentiful. It speaks to our lifestyles, really, and how we often find much of the days are spent indoors and working in windowless spaces. It is also not clear how much of the sun’s beneficial rays are blocked by high SPF sunscreens. I believe that part of our contribution to Vit D deficiency is SPFs and that even when we are in the sun, we aren’t absorbing because we are so covered up.
Are you Vitamin D deficient? Vitamin D keeps our bones and teeth strong. It might also play a role in protecting you from disease like heart disease, colorectal and bowel cancer, breast cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis. More research is needed to really understand Vitamin D’s vast role in the body, but we do know that it is vital and we probably don’t get enough of it. Every cell in our body has receptors for Vitamin D and that is why it has such wide reaching effects. People who are most at risk for Vitamin D deficiency include those who don’t consume dairy products, eggs and fatty fish, where we find strong levels of Vitamin D, breastfed babies, and adults over the age of 50 (people over 50 may not produce vitamin D in their skin as well as they did when they were younger).
It may be necessary for you to supplement with Vitamin D daily.Research has shown that the RDA values most often suggested, like 400 IU, are far below optimum for our bodies. It looks like supplementation with a liposomal Vit D is best, with upward of 6000IU being the best dosing, but maybe higher with an immune system that is struggling or in northern countries. It is also recommended that your Vitamin D supplement contain Vitamin K (found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi ), which is an important cofactor in insuring that we don’t get Vitamin D toxicity and that the Vitamin D directs the calcium to the bones and teeth and not unwanted areas. For more information on dosage, and to check if your levels are low, see your naturopath. Another great tip is to work in a mid to late morning walk in the sunshine, for 20 minutes without wearing sunscreen (those with darker skin might consider longer). It is great for so many reasons.