Dear Dr. Kim
Is it worth taking Vitamin D?
Generally speaking, yes and considering the Covid-related conditions, it could be more important. Research has shown that a large portion of the population is Vitamin D deficient and Vitamin D supports bone, teeth, mood, nervous system, immune, and heart health. Vitamin D has gained a lot of attention more recently for its immune support as a hot topic in cancer research - low levels have been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer to name a few.
It is challenging to ingest a substantial amount of Vitamin D from food sources making supplementation often necessary to achieve adequate Vitamin D levels. Foods naturally rich in Vitamin D include liver, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and egg yolk. Next on the food sources are foods fortified with Vitamin D such as milk and some orange juices.
Vitamin D can also be produced by the skin from sun exposure to UVB. In the skin, UV exposure from sunlight converts cholesterol (found in the skin) to provitamin D. The provitamin circulates to the liver and kidneys where it is converted to an active form (that the body can use). Its migration to the liver is why cod LIVER oil and animal liver are particularly rich food sources.
Unfortunately, the latitude in which you live, age, your skin pigment, the season and sunscreen use can limit UVB exposure and provitamin D activation ... and thus Vitamin D production. Sunscreen with SPF as low as SPF 8 can block most UVB rays. People are left to juggle sunscreen use to protect the skin while allowing UV rays in to support Vitamin D production. Further, in Canada during the winter months it is thought that none (or very little UVB) is present in Sunlight and so some people choose to just supplement fall and winter seasons. I support testing and individualized approaches that often include year-round supplementation and monitoring.
Your Naturopath or Medical Doctor can order a blood test which is valuable in determining your Vitamin D levels and setting up your recommended intake – even if you have to pay for the testing. This test can be used to monitor your status from year to year, individualize your approach and confirm that you are in good stead. I have seen plenty of patients and athletes who are still low in their Vitamin D status despite supplementing.
Health Canada sets Recommended Daily Allowance at 400-800IU depending on age but acknowledges upper tolerable limits for adults of 4000IU. There are many practitioners who recommend use at 1000-5000IU on a regular basis to establish optimal blood levels.
Vitamin D delivers so make sure you are topped up!
“Health from the inside out.”
Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she has been a consultant to the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence, Camosun College, and Rugby Canada. Kim currently works with Rowing Canada, providing Sport Performance Nutrition support. P:778.433.4935 and Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble.