Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D plays an important role in your bone health.1 It is mostly made by the body through exposure to sunlight. This is unique to vitamin D since most vitamins come from the foods you eat.1 The amount of vitamin D in your body can affect the amount of calcium in your bones and can take a toll on your overall bone health:
- Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased bone mass (osteoporosis) which can increase your risk of fractures.1
- Too much vitamin D can lead to calcium deposits in the kidneys (kidney stones), or calcium build-up in other soft tissues like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.2
More than 90% of a person’s vitamin D requirement tends to come from exposure to sunlight.3 For those who live in darker climates, this can be difficult to achieve.2 In Canada, and other countries in the northern hemisphere, people are exposed to less ultraviolet light in the winter. This means our bodies produce little to no vitamin D.1 Statistics Canada reported that, in the winter months, 40% of Canadians had vitamin D levels that were below the recommended range.1 The summertime numbers are smaller, but still sit around 25%.1 This means that we are lacking the amount of vitamin D the body needs year-round.
You can get vitamin D naturally from a few foods, including egg yolks or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel.1 In Canada, some foods are fortified with vitamin D by law to prevent the risk of vitamin D deficiency in the general population, including milk, soy milk, rice beverages, and margarine.4
This winter remember to get a little sunshine into your week, 10-15 minutes is all you need!! Reading nutritional labels and eating foods high in vitamin D will also help you meet your goals and keep your bones strong.
For questions about keeping your bones (and the rest of your spine, muscle, and nervous system) in good health this winter (and throughout the year), you can talk with Dr. Ginette.
Ref: Canadian Chiropractic Association
- Vitamin D blood levels of Canadians. Statcangcca. 2015. Available at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11727-eng.htm. Accessed October 17, 2016.
- Vitamin d and calcium: updated dietary reference intakes – nutrition and healthy eating – health Canada. Hc-scgcca. 2016. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php. Accessed October 17, 2016.
- Holick M. Vitamin D: important for prevention of osteoporosis, cardiovascular heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and some cancers. Southern Medical Journal. 2005;98(10):1024-1026. doi:10.1097/01.smj.0000140865.32054.db.
- Food sources of vitamin D. Dietitians of Canada. 2014. Available at: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vitamins/Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-D.aspx. Accessed October 17, 2016.