By now, most of us are aware that many Canadians simply don’t get enough Vitamin D from their diets or through the sun. What you may not know is why exactly vitamin D is so important. In the warmer months, our skin is able to naturally make vitamin D with the help of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. That’s why vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” However, from about October to April, sunlight is not only limited, but its rays are too weak to produce vitamin D.
This steroid hormone is essential in many of our body’s vital functions, but the most documented and researched is its role in maintaining bone health. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the digestive tract, and ensures that our bodies have enough reserves of these minerals to build bone tissue. When our bodies lack the necessary amounts of vitamin D, our natural response is to use calcium from our bones to maintain our blood levels, which can lead to osteoporosis and other serious disorders. Supplemental vitamin D has also been linked to a decreased risk of autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as improved muscle strength. Getting vitamin D from our diet isn’t easy as it only occurs naturally in certain foods like tuna and salmon, egg yolks and certain mushrooms. Unfortunately, you’ll be hard-pressed to eat a balanced diet of these foods and end up with enough vitamin D but not too much of other nutrients.
This is where supplementation is crucial. Vitamin D supplements are available in tablets, liquids, powders and gummies, making it easy to find one that works for you. When shopping for a supplement, be sure to look out for and choose vitamin D3. This form, called cholecalciferol, is the active form in the body that’s more easily absorbable. Research shows that the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation are more visible when taken daily. These supplements come in a variety of doses, and it’s important to check with your health care practitioner to see how much your body needs