I often get asked about which vitamin supplements should everyone be taking. If walking into GNC makes you feel 'inadequate' you are not alone. We are often bombarded by information on which 'super food' you need to be eating or which supplement is the new holy grail.
Now lets add a little science back into the equation. The one size fits all approach to health really does not fit all. There is a lot of individual variation when it comes to supplementing with vitamins. What we eat, don't eat, how we eat, has a significant impact on what nutrients we get. But you already know that. What most of us often forget is that our age, gender, race/ethnicity, location has a lot to do with our vitamin needs.
Today I want to talk about Vitamin D, which has gotten a lot of good and bad press lately in the scientific community. Why do we make a big fuss about Vitamin D? Well, it has some unique characteristics worth considering. It is a vitamin but acts as a hormone, essential for bone health. It also has a a role in muscle health, heart health, immune system regulation and fighting cancer.
Very few food sources have Vitamin D such as fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms and liver. Most of us get our daily dose from fortified foods such as milk. The reason why mother nature didn't put Vitamin D in more food sources is because we can get all we need from sunlight. Our skin can produced Vitamin D3 from UVB rays. Now lets talk about all the factors that affect YOUR Vitamin D level. (If you are a citrus farmer in Florida, you can stop reading now)
1- 70 years you need 600 IU and age 70+ need 800 IU
In the winter when the sun does not rise very high in the horizon, UVB do not penetrate the earth's atmosphere as well. If you live anywhere above Atlanta you are probably not getting enough UVB to make adequate amount of Vitamin D
If you are white, in about 15 minutes in mid day summer sun, in your bathing suit you get 10000 IU. If you are black, it might take you 4x as long to get the same amount due to the melanin in the skin which protects from UV light.
SOLUTION: Sunlight, 10-30 minutes, depending on your skin color. The more skin you expose the more you absorb.
CAUTION: Vitamin D is fat soluble which means you can potentially overdose if you take too many supplements. If you have kidney disease please consult your doctor. Too much sun and too many supplements are not a good thing.
Think about getting your Vitamin D level checked IF
- you live anywhere where you get less than 10 hours of sunlight and have to wear a jacket in winter
Think about supplementing IF
- your blood level is less than 30 nmols/L
- you are a vampire or a slave to your computer screen
- if you have darker skin and don't get enough sun exposure
- history of skin cancer and use a lot of sunblock
- you are vegan and have any of the above
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