Longer Reads

Sunshine in a Pill: Vitamin D

It may officially be summertime, but many of us still aren’t getting enough of that fabulous “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis, depression, and prostate and breast cancers. Vitamin D levels in the body have also been shown to affect diabetes and obesity. So it’s one of the most important – yet underrated – nutrients around, and the sad fact is that most of us (myself included!) are deficient in it.

Our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when sunlight touches our skin — hence the nickname “the sunshine vitamin.” But unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough sun these days to generate the amount of vitamin D our bodies need. Many people avoid the sun due to skin cancer concerns, or they work in an office all day long and never see the sun, or they live in a northern climate far from the equator (like New York) where we don’t get tons of sun for a good couple of months. And even weak sunscreens of SPF8 can block our bodies ability to generate vitamin D by 95%!

Sufficient vitamin D levels are crucial for calcium absorption, and without enough vitamin D in our diets, our bodies can’t absorb calcium properly. So you can take tons of calcium supplements or try to eat a lot of calcium in your diet, but if you don’t get in enough vitamin D, your body can’t properly absorb that calcium.

It’s nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from our diets. We would have to drink 10 tall glasses of vitamin D-fortified milk just to get the daily minimum level of vitamin D in our diet! That alone would create its own health concerns…So one of the best ways to get it in is to supplement with it. I have started taking 4000 IUs of Vitamin D3 per day. Currently, the RDA is only 400 IUs, but more and more research is coming out showing there is a massive vitamin D deficiency going on and most of us are not getting nearly as much as we need.  A recent blood test at my doctor’s office showed that my vitamin D levels were almost HALF of what they should be, so I recently increased the amount I take per day. I highly recommend that everyone  have their doctor perform a simple vitamin D blood test to see if you are deficient.