Fall is upon us and our Vitamin D levels are dropping. Living in Toronto, we don't get much natural Vitamin D over the winter. I'm active and try to spend lots of time outdoors in the fall & winter, but as the temperature drops I am more and more bundled up. Our biggest source of Vitamin D is the sun, and we need direct skin exposure (without sunscreen) to the sun for our body to make Vitamin D from cholesterol. You can't get it from tanning beds, you can't get it through a window, you can't get it in the shade, and you can't get it on a cloudy day. Direct sunlight is what we need, and we know that with winter coming that's less and less frequent. To add to this, those with a darker skin tone make less Vitamin D than those with a paler skin tone. So what do you do? Fish is our best source, second best is dairy or fortified "milk". That being said, most of us should be supplementing with Vitamin D3 to help with the lack of sunshine we experience in the winter. It can help with bone health, mood, energy, cancer prevention, immune function, and many more things.
It's important to know that you can get too much Vitamin D when you're supplementing, so it's important to get bloodwork done to see if it's a necessary supplement and to follow up that you're not over supplementing. Unfortunately, OHIP will only cover the cost of Vitamin D testing if you've got osteoporosis, osteopenia, malabsorption syndrome, rickets, or kidney disease. I (or your family doctor) can still order the test, it just means that you may have to pay out of pocket for it. Toxicity symptoms from Vitamin D include nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, bone pain, kidney problems, weakness, kidney stones, high levels of calcium in your blood, etc.
Please make an appointment if you'd like to discuss Vitamin D further, or get bloodwork done to check your levels! Can you see me gazing at the sunshine and NOT getting any Vitamin D through my window in the picture below?