You’ve probably heard of vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” before.
Its most well recognized role in the human body is to help with calcium absorption, which is why it is so critical for bone health. More recently, it is beginning to be understood that vitamin D also plays a fundamental role in immune health and may contribute to the prevention of certain types of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Sounds important right? It sure is, and one of the real problems that Canadians face is keeping their vitamin D levels where they need to be, especially in the winter months.
Here at eieihome.com, we don’t want you to be one of the 40% of Canadian’s whose vitamin D levels drop too low in the winter time.
That’s why in today’s article you will learn everything you need to know about vitamin D and the steps you need to take to ensure you are getting enough.
Before we started, here are 5 quick facts on Vitamin D:
- There are very few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D, which means that many Canadian’s struggle to get enough vitamin D from their diet alone.
- If you do not consume the few foods that are rich in vitamin D regularly, you may need a vitamin D supplement.
- In fact, Health Canada recommends a vitamin D supplement containing 400 IU daily for ALL Canadians over age 50.
- Yes, vitamin D can be made by your skin upon interaction with the sun in the Canadian summer, but not winter months because the sun’s rays are too weak.
- This explains why the number of Canadians with suboptimal vitamin D levels in their blood is higher during the winter and lower in the summer.
How Much Do You Need?
The recommended dietary allowance ( RDA) for vitamin D for the majority of the population is 600 IU.
The exception being adults above the age of 70, who have a requirement of 800 IU.
These values are established by Health Canada and assume that you are getting no sun exposure, which means that you can probably get away with needing less vitamin D from food/supplements during the summer time.
In reality, many people will be getting at least some of their vitamin D requirement through sun exposure alone during the warmer months, but this amount can very heavily based on a number of factors including the month, time of day and sunscreen use, among others.
How Do You Get Enough From Food?
Fish is the richest natural source of vitamin D in the human diet.
If you do not consume multiple servings of fish weekly ( 1 serving = 2.5 oz), it will be challenging for you to get enough vitamin D from your diet alone.
It’s also important to recognize that, when it comes to vitamin D, not all fish are equal.
If you take a second to compare some of fish below to daily vitamin D requirements for most people ( 600 IU), you can see that while a serving of sockeye or coho salmon contains 50% of one’s daily recommended vitamin D intake, a serving of white tuna contains less than 15%.
Vitamin D Scale – Fish
1 serving = 2.5 oz
Very High ( > 300 IU per serving): Pacific mackerel , canned sockeye or pink salmon, coho salmon
High ( 200-300 IU per serving): Atlantic salmon, keta salmon, canned mackerel
Moderate ( 100-200 IU per serving): Halibut, sardines, herring, trout, whitefish
Low ( < 100 IU per serving): White tuna, atlantic mackerel
Looking for an easy, healthy and fun way to incorporate more fish?
Check out our Simple Smoked Salmon Avocado Bites recipe.
Other Sources of Vitamin D
1 cup Cow’s Milk or Fortified Milk Alternative – 100 IU
2 Eggs – 70 IU
¾ cup Yogurt – 60 IU
Fortified Almond milk – 90 IU
1 tsp margarine – 30 IU
As I hope you can now appreciate, it can be quite challenging for most people to get enough vitamin D from their diet alone.
The reality is that most Canadians simply do not achieve adequacy in vitamin D intake from their diet.
Take stock of today’s article and if you feel you do not regularly consume the few vitamin D rich foods that have been discussed, you may want to seriously considering taking a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU daily.
This would be particularly valuable in the winter months, where we have limited ability to create vitamin D using the sun’s rays.