It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D. It’s actually a very common deficiency.
When thinking of “vitamins,” we know they’re super-important for health.
But vitamin D is special.
So, let’s talk about how much of this critical vitamin you need, and how you can make sure you get enough.
Three ways to get enough vitamin D:
- Exposure to the sun.
- Consuming vitamin D containing foods.
- Through supplementation.
Why is Getting Enough Vitamin D Important
Vitamin D plays an important role in your health.
Some of the roles of vitamin D:
- Helps you absorb calcium from food
- Acts like a hormone to help build strong bones.
- Vitamin D can help with immune function, cellular growth, and prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.
- Research also suggests it may play a role in the prevention and treatment of type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.
Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death!
The “official” minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is a mere 400-800 IU (depending on age). Many experts believe this is still not nearly enough for optimal health.
To ensure you get enough vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources I mentioned above. Now, let’s go a little deeper into these.
Getting Vitamin D From the Sun
Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun, that’s why it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” The form your body makes when exposed to the sun is vitamin D sulfate. This form is water soluble & can travel freely in your bloodstream. Plus, you can’t overdose from vitamin D from sun exposure!
How much vitamin D you can make depends on different things. Things like your location (further from the equator= less exposure), sunscreen (blocks the UVB), clouds, clothing, skin color, and even weight (being overweight may affect the bioavailability of vitamin D!!!) affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun.
SIDE NOTE: The darker your skin, the more sun exposure you’ll need to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with fair skin.
One standard recommendation is to expose the face, arms, legs, or back to the sun for about 5–30 minutes between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. This should be done to exposed sin and without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Of course, always avoid sunburns!! We all know, depending on your location (and season of the year) it’s not always easy to get sun exposure. (Kinda like this past Tennessee winter where it rained for weeks without a break!) So, how can you get enough vitamin D without sun exposure?
Foods Containing Vitamin D
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks.
Some foods are “fortified” (which means vitamin D has been added) with vitamin D. These include milk and milk products like yogurt, some orange juices, and a lot of breakfast cereals.
Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase the absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course).
Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum recommended amount of vitamin D each day. This may certainly be the case if you are vegan, have darker skin, have been diagnosed with a digestive tract condition like Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, or celiac disease. These are a few reasons vitamin D supplements have become quite popular.
Taking Vitamin D as a Supplement
It’s easy enough to just “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A, but is seriously Gross!). Either of these can ensure you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra. One of my favorite Vitamin D supplements is THIS or THIS .
But before taking vitamin D containing supplements, make sure it won’t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice. Plus, you’ll want to look for Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) not the synthetic D2.
Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.
The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium, and this can affect your heart and kidneys. However, without enough vitamin D your body can’t absorb and use calcium.
The best thing, if you’re concerned that you may be deficient, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Adequate level for a healthy individual is 20 ng/ML to 50 ng/mL. A level of less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency. After receiving your results, they can make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may also recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time to get your levels up to par while under their care.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin, and many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of this “sunshine vitamin”. There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, eating certain foods, and through supplements.
Now you have some ideas on how you can get the minimum 400-800 IU of your vitamin D daily.
If you’re concerned, it’s best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what steps are right for you. Remember, always take supplements as directed.
Now, for a simple & delicious recipe to give you some of that lovely vitamin D. (I usually eat salmon twice per week for the great nutrients it provides!!!)
Super-Simple Grilled Salmon
- 4 wild salmon fillets
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 black pepper
- 1/4 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp. dried dill or 1 Tbs fresh
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ Lemon
Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the fish in the center & the asparagus around the edges of the pan.
Squeeze the lemon on the asparagus and salmon. Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle the olive oil, mostly on the asparagus
Flip the fish so it’s skin-side down..
Broil for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve & enjoy!
Serve with a side of rice, quinoa or sweet potato.
Cooking the salmon skin side up makes it easier to remove the skin if you choose.