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How Vitamin D Benefits Your Health in Spring

Woman smiling in the sun with yellow shirt and sunglasses.

 

Did you know that the average person isn’t able to meet all of their vitamin requirements through diet alone? The results are in, most people simply aren’t meeting their nutrient needs, and that includes essential vitamins like vitamin D.

 


 

A report by Health Canada called "Are Canadian Adults Meeting Their Nutrient Needs Solely Through Food?" revealed that 10-35% of adult Canadians exhibited nutrient levels below the estimated average requirement for various micronutrients, including vitamins A, B6, B12, folate, C, D, as well as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

 

While there are plenty of foods that contain vitamin D: salmon, swordfish, tuna, orange juice fortified with vitamin D, fortified milk and plant milk, sardines, and beef liver, to name a few. You can also take a cod liver oil supplement.

 

Today, we will go through the benefits of vitamin D, where you can obtain it, and how you can optimize your health this spring.

 

If you’re in need of help dealing with your overall well-being, consider coming down to Cook’s Pharmacy - your independent supplier of medicine, supplements, health management, and more.

 

With that in mind, let’s explore a little more about vitamin D.

 

 

The Functionality of Vitamin D In the Body

First and foremost: vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body requires to maintain healthy bones. It’s essential because your body is only able to absorb calcium (the primary component of bones) when vitamin D is present in the body. However, vitamin D also serves several other purposes, particularly in cellular function. Vitamin serves as an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and even has neuroprotective properties that can help support your immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.

 

As we mentioned, vitamin D is primarily available in several fortified foods and many varieties of fish, but your body can also make it through your skin and direct sunlight. This process creates a chemical in your skin into an active form of vitamin D known as calciferol. However, due to concerns and issues caused by sun exposure, it’s recommended to spend some time outside for sure, but not too much.

 

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes depends on several things, such as the time of day, the season, the pigment of your skin, and latitude. This very literally means that your body’s ability to create vitamin D can decrease or become obsolete depending on where you live in the world. Sunscreen - an essential element of preventing skin cancer - can also decrease vitamin production.

 

Multivitamins can help improve your intake of vitamin D, with a recommended daily amount of 400 IU for children 12 months, 600 IU for people 1 to 70 years old, and 800 IU for people over 70.

 

 

According To the Research

Research into the use of vitamin D for specific conditions indicates the following:

 

  • Cancer: Studies on the preventive benefits of vitamin D for cancer yield mixed results, necessitating further investigation to ascertain its potential in reducing the risk of certain cancers.
  • Cognitive health: Low blood levels of vitamin D are linked to cognitive decline; however, additional research is required to determine the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation for cognitive health.
  • Inherited bone disorders: Vitamin D supplements can aid in treating inherited disorders resulting from difficulties in absorbing or processing vitamin D, such as familial hypophosphatemia.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Long-term supplementation with vitamin D appears to lower the risk of multiple sclerosis based on research findings.
  • Osteomalacia: Adults with severe vitamin D deficiency, manifesting as bone mineral loss, bone pain, muscle weakness, and soft bones (osteomalacia), can benefit from vitamin D supplements for treatment.
  • Osteoporosis: Studies suggest that individuals who obtain sufficient vitamin D and calcium through their diets can slow bone mineral loss, potentially preventing osteoporosis and reducing bone fractures. It’s important to consult your doctor regarding the necessity of calcium and vitamin D supplements for osteoporosis prevention or treatment.
  • Psoriasis: Some individuals with plaque-type psoriasis may find relief by applying vitamin D or a topical preparation containing calcipotriene, a vitamin D compound, to the skin.

 

 

Elderly couple enjoying the sunshine outside in warm climate.

 

Increasing Your Vitamin D This Spring

Other than going out and getting a respectable amount of sun (ideally around midday), you can also increase the amount of fish and fortified foods in your diet.

 

If beef liver doesn’t appeal to your palette (which we totally understand), there are plenty of ways to eat and prepare several forms of fish into delicious and healthy meals. For example:

 

  • Try panfrying some sardines in a spicy sauce like salsa verde. This is a creative way to make the most of this popularly canned fish. According to Boston University, sardines are a rich source of vitamin D, with one serving (3.5 ounces, approximately 5 fish) providing around 330.8 IU of vitamin D3, equivalent to approximately 66.2 IU per fish.

  • For air fryer lovers, you can easily air fry some salmon with lemon or dijon to add to a nice colourful salad. For sockeye salmon in particular, 100 grams contains 526 IU of vitamin D.

  • Bulk up your lunchtime with a nice tuna salad sandwich with fresh veggies and Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. In a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving, canned light tuna contains up to 269 IU of vitamin D.

  • Grill some swordfish up with lemon and garlic for a nice and easy meal that pairs easily with grilled veggies. Swordfish can contain between 666 IU and 706 IU of vitamin D, making it a great source of vitamin D!

  • OK, we previously had beef with beef liver in this article (get it?), but if you enjoy this rich organ meat, you can enjoy it in various forms. Fry it up with some Chinese spices for a twist or grill it along with some onions for a healthy and hearty meal. While perhaps not the most appealing option, a 3.5-ounce serving of cooked beef liver contains approximately 50 IU of vitamin D and is a source of several other nutrients.

  • For an easy breakfast, have some cereal with fortified milk. Depending on the brands, on average, dairy milk can contain 120 IU of vitamin D, while non-dairy alternatives typically offer between 2.5 and 3.6 mcg per 1 cup.

  • Everyone likes orange juice, don’t they? Blend it in with your smoothie to add some extra flavour and vitamin D - approximately 100 IU worth according to dietaryguidelines.gov.

 

 

Man and woman smiling with arms up in the sun.

 

How To Safely Enjoy the Sun This Spring and Get Some Natural Vitamin D

To maintain healthy levels of vitamin D in your blood, it's important to expose an ample amount of skin to sunlight. For lighter-skinned individuals, wearing a tank top and shorts for 10–30 minutes three times per week is typically enough, whereas individuals with darker skin may require longer exposure.

 

HOWEVER – it isn’t recommended for anyone to be in the sun for too long without sunscreen to minimize the risk of skin cancer. This is why combining enjoying the springtime sunshine along with supplementation and diet is the optimal way to get the necessary required amount of vitamin D. A combination of methods is the surefire way to ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin.

 

 

 

Poshin Jobanputra at 10:00 AM
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