During Winter Don’t Forget Vitamin D
Perhaps you have already been advised to take a vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months? Health care professionals believe that many Canadians are likely to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, a vitamin which is essential to our health. With the following article, we hope to give you a better understanding of the importance of vitamin D for our body and the reasons why taking supplements is often necessary.
Role of vitamin D in the body
First, vitamin D performs an essential function for bone health: our body needs it to absorb calcium. Calcium is known to be one of the main minerals that make up bones, so it’s understandable that getting enough vitamin D helps maintain good bone mass. Indeed, a good intake of vitamin D could help prevent osteoporosis. In addition, vitamin D is associated with the maintenance of muscle function. This vitamin could therefore help improve balance and prevent falls and related fractures, especially in elderly people.
Scientific research also tends to show a link between vitamin D deficiency and a weakened immune response, particularly against certain infections or types of cancer.
This is the nickname often given to vitamin D. Indeed, this vitamin is mainly produced and absorbed by our skin when exposed to sunlight. In Canada, we must deal with winter and what it entails, including a marked decrease in sunlight and our exposure to UV rays. Thus, from October to March, our body is not able to produce enough vitamin D to enjoy all its benefits.
In theory, sufficient exposure to sunlight during the summer months should allow our body to stock up on vitamin D. In practice, however, this is far from always the case, since certain factors can impair the body’s ability to produce and store vitamin D. These factors are:
- Using sunscreen: Sunscreen is used to protect our skin from the effects of UV rays and is quite common nowadays. However, the decrease in vitamin D production by the skin during the sunny months is a negative effect caused by using sunscreen.
- Aging: As we age, the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D decreases.
- Low sun exposure: For various reasons, some people don’t get much sunlight, regardless of the season.
Can our needs be met by food?
In short, the answer that applies to most of us is: NO. Indeed, foods with a high vitamin D content are limited, the main ones being fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring). Egg yolk and beef liver also contain it but in smaller quantities. Some products are fortified with vitamin D, including margarine, soy beverages, some orange juices… However, few people consume enough of these foods to enjoy a sufficiently high vitamin D intake.
For your health, consider supplements
Because our body struggles to produce all the vitamin D it needs throughout the year, and because we rarely get enough vitamin D from food, we need to look for alternatives. That’s why health care professionals and organizations like Osteoporosis Canada recommend vitamin D supplements for all adults.
The recommended dose is 400 to 1000 IU for healthy adults 19 to 50 years of age. This dose should be higher, 800 to 2000 IU, in people over 50 years of age, as well as in people who are at risk for osteoporosis or who have suffered several fractures in their lifetime.
To fight the risks associated with osteoporosis, while preventing joint pain caused by the condition, consider Genacol Bone & Joint supplements. In addition to our AminoLock Collagen, this comprehensive formula contains 1000 IU of vitamin D3, for stronger and healthier bones.
If you think you may be at risk to suffer from vitamin D deficiency, talk to your healthcare professional.