Note: This post was updated on October 21, 2018.
Called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is made by our bodies after exposure to sunlight. However, because we are so aware of sun safety (and rightfully so, I think) we tend to cover up in so many ways we can’t absorb the Vitamin D the sun puts out there, and those of us in the northern latitudes really struggle to get enough naturally occurring Vitamin D.
Over on my Facebook page this week we are talking about Steelhead Trout, an excellent source of Vitamin D. It's an easy fish to make and serve, and I'll be sharing my favourite quick way to cook this fish on #foodiefriday.
Until recently, studies on Vitamin D maintained that it helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. As of early October 2018, this has been disproven in studies done over several years, with the exception of those who are shut-ins and cannot leave the home.
It also helps to regulate our immune and neuromuscular systems to keep them running strong. Although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin D keeps us healthy in many other ways, including protection from breast cancer to treatment of diabetes have been done, they are inconclusive in result.
Vitamin D also plays a particular importance in healthy outcomes for mother and baby. It seems to play a huge role in everything from prevention of infertility, bacterial infections, and pre-eclampsia to gestational diabetes and low birth weight.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin D can actually help with weight loss, and can also be an effective treatment for depression.
Vitamin D also prevents rickets, a condition that causes skeletal defects, muscle weakness, dental problems, and more. It’s not very common here in the West, but there is a resurgence. Here's another in-depth look at rickets.
Vitamin D can be overdosed on when using supplement, which is why you want to try very hard to get it from your diet. I know I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:
The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin. Around the world, there are different recommendations for how much is enough. As recently as 2010, Health Canada has adjusted the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. It’s an interesting read.
Infants to children aged 8, recommended minimum intake is 400-600 IU, children 9-adults 600-800 IU. However, the tolerable daily upper limit is significantly higher, so check out that chart (link posted above for Health Canada)
Consider how supplementation can interact with other vitamins and minerals. The human body is a delicate balance, and everything you put into your mouth will have an effect on something.
If you’re on long-term medication, check with your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation. There are several drug interactions associated with of Vitamin D.
To summarize, Vitamin D is important to:
You can find Vitamin D in these food sources:
Fatty Fish (tuna, salmon, trout), fortified foods (dairy, orange juice, etc), cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.