Another common question that I get is related to Vitamin D.  It seems the popularity and use of Vitamin D in supplement form has risen and a lot of people are becoming savvy about the details and necessity of this, but for those who are asking, let’s cover the Vitamin D 101 conversation today.  Do you need Vitamin D supplements and if so, which ones and how much?

The easy answer is yes, you need it, and you need a fair amount of it.  So here are the basics.

Like anything in the body the production of Vitamin D involves a complicate chemical process.  In this case, it comes through a process of Ultraviolet Light contacting your skin, and the ensuing chemical reactions happening within the skin cells, producing Vitamin D from Cholesterol.  This is why its important to get direct contact with the sun for small amounts of time (around 30 min) each day.  Exposure to just your head and hands doesn’t seem to be enough though, and certainly in our part of the world our exposure to direct sunlight during the winter is extremely limited.  So, if we depend on the natural production of Vitamin D through sunlight exposure, the science is showing pretty clearly that we’ll end up in a drastic Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency is no laughing matter.  This needs to be taken seriously.  The science now shows a direct link to over 200 genetic processes within your cells that will be hindered by a deficiency in Vit D.  And these altered processes are linked to a huge myriad of health issues and impending disease, including all of the biggest killers and disablers.

So, if it’s near impossible in our cold climate to produce enough Vit D naturally, and the result of not doing so is disease and disfunction, then its pretty clear that supplements are essential.  You can get some from natural food sources such as Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, Trout, Mackerel, and egg yolks. Cod Liver Oil supplements will provide some as well.  But that list of foods are not staples in a regular Canadian diet plan (although it might be argued they should be).  The science, therefore, is showing that synthetic supplements are essential.  So, to answer the basic question, yes, you should be taking a vitamin D supplement every day.

There are 2 types of Vit D supplements you’ll typically find in the vitamin aisle.  Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  You want D3 (Cholecalciferol).  D3 is shown to be almost twice as affective at raising blood levels of Vitamin D.

D3 supplements are measured in International Units (IU).  The daily minimum recommended intake is 1000IU for kids and 2000IU for adults.  If you’re new to these supplements or away from them for a while and don’t spend much time in the sun you could likely do well with about a month of higher doses (5000IU per day), but long term that 2000IU is shown to be very effective.

Some people seem worried about Vitamin D toxicity.  This is a real thing, but the science doesn’t support a cause for concern.  You’d need to artificially consume over 10,000IU per day over several months before you’d start to show symptoms of this issue.  You’d kind of need to make a purposeful effort to create blood levels high enough to cause toxicity.

Now, standard disclaimer that conversations with your doctor and/or pharmacist are always advisable before starting any new supplement regime, but it is well argued that a conversation about starting this particular supplement is worth your time.