Vancouver aka Raincouver just doesn’t give us enough sunshine. Our summer was too short and now it is time to bring out the rain gear.  And, what else?  It is also time for everyone to start taking Vitamin D!

Sunlight is the most effective way to get vitamin D.  However, people living in Vancouver spend about six months of the year under cloudy skies and nearly two thirds of the population has inadequate levels of vitamin D.  What about getting it through food?  Only very few foods are natural sources – Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, egg yolks, beef liver, and swiss cheese.  Most contain less than 300 IU per serving, which is not enough to offer adequate amounts without sun exposure or supplementation.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of vitamin D in our overall health.  Vitamin D is believed to be beneficial in preventing cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It also acts as an immune modulator and stimulates immune fighting cells, thus fight infections, including flu. And, the list goes on and on as deficiency of vitamin D can potentially impact all 36 organs.

According to a recent study in Japan, vitamin D is better than the flu vaccine!  This study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the anti-viral drugs reduce risk of flu infection by 8 percent in children who have been exposed to infection, compared to a 50 percent or greater reduction with vitamin D. [i]

If you are pregnant, maintaining the optimal vitamin D level is one of the most important strategies to keep you and your baby healthy.  It prevents low birth weight, lowers your risk of pre-eclampsia (a sudden onset of high blood pressure during pregnancy), and lowers your baby’s risk of diseases such as infantile hypocalcaemia and rickets.

The current Canada DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) of 400IU – 600 IU (international units) vitamin D is recommended to prevent rickets, but is not enough to give the protection from cancer, infections and heart disease.  Most adults will need about 3,000- 4,000 IU’s a day to achieve the healthy blood level, and children under 12 years old will need about 1,000- 2,000 IU’s.

Vitamin D requirements are highly individual, and the only accurate way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood 25 hydroxy D level tested regularly.  Ideally, you want to maintain a vitamin D level of at least 50ng/ml and higher.  Adults, pregnant women, and children all have varying recommended dosages and so should seek advice from your family naturopath before beginning supplementation with vitamin D.