To D or not to D – is that even a question? Nope, not in Canada anyway, where we have limited abilities to absorb vitamin D – known as the sunshine vitamin – because of our distance from the sun. This is especially true in winter as we tilt further away from the great star.
Why is vitamin D good for you?
Vitamin D is key for a host of reasons – it regulates mood, helps with immunity and can stave off osteoporosis. And could it keep death at bay? Maybe!
A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a causal link between vitamin D deficiency and mortality. The study looked at more 300,000 adults in the United Kingdom. Over a 14-year follow-up period, the authors found that the risk for death decreased significantly with increased vitamin D concentrations, and the strongest effects were seen for persons in the severe deficiency range. They note that estimates for the prevalence of severe deficiency range from 5 to 50 per cent of the population.
Does vitamin D fight cancer?
Here’s another reason to ensure you’re getting enough D. A study out of Finland looked at 498 adults who were at elevated risk of skin cancer. One of their findings was that, among regular users of vitamin D, there were considerably fewer cases of melanoma. Study author Ilkka Harvima, professor of dermatology and allergology at the University of Eastern Finland says, “The question about the optimal dose of oral vitamin D in order to for it to have beneficial effects remains to be answered. Until we know more, national intake recommendations should be followed.”
Vitamin D and women’s health
For a more local (and surprising) twist, FLEETSTREET caught up with holistic nutrition expert and metabolic balance coach Daphne Kostova of DK Wellness to explain other reasons why this nutrient is key to supporting women’s health. Read on for her insight.
Why is vitamin D important?
DK: You may be aware that vitamin D plays an important role in your immune health, good mood, depression prevention, cognitive health as well as calcium absorption. Did you know it is also an important factor for supporting your metabolism?
What’s the link between D and metabolism?
DK: Vitamin D is a cofactor in thyroid hormone production and your thyroid is in charge of your metabolism. As a hormone balancing coach for women, I look at thyroid health very seriously because I want my clients to be successful on their weight loss journey and without the proper support of the thyroid this can be challenging.
What steps can we take to maintain good health?
DK: There are a few things you can do.
Ensure your vitamin D levels are in check. Take a supplement daily, dosage according to your needs, especially during spring, fall and winter seasons in the northern hemisphere.
- Eat to support liver health. Detox and elimination are important for thyroid health. Make sure you add foods such as kale, beets, artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks and lemons to support your liver.
- Check your stress levels. Stress management is key to support your thyroid health, as your adrenal health is the backbone of your thyroid health. If your adrenals (stress glands) are exhausted, you may not produce good levels of thyroid hormone. Stress management means to actively support the impact of stress on yourself. Choose to include daily support such as gratitude journaling, guided meditation and movement.
Use a good water filter that takes fluoride out of your water and minimize use of fluoride as fluoride will compete for absorption with iodine which you need for optimal thyroid health.
Nourish your body and support gut health. Make sure you include all macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) in your diet and especially foods rich in B vitamins (eggs, wild salmon, avocado, spinach, legumes, poultry etc.), selenium (Brazil nuts, sardines, oysters) and iodine (kelp, wakame, nori etc.). These nutrients are nourishing for your thyroid. Having a healthy gut will help you digest and absorb these nutrients through the foods you are eating!
Use supplements, if needed, after consulting with your practitioner. In certain cases, supplements may be needed to help you see improvement quicker and support the nutritional changes you are making.
Other quick vitamin D FAQs
The recommended dosage, according to Health Canada, is 600 International Units (IU). You shouldn’t exceed 4,000 IU.
Yes! In fact it is recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding take 2000 IU a day.
You should speak to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements. The good news is that there are a range of products to choose from including liquid, tablet, soft gels and gummie and vegan.
Yes. According to Health Canada, cow’s milk and margarine must be fortified with vitamin D. If you’re looking for natural sources, Health Canada recommends eating fatty fish and egg yolks.
Given that this vitamin is fat-soluble, most experts agree its best taken at a meal, especially one that consists of healthy fats (nuts, fish, avocado).