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How Can I Get Enough Vitamin D?

We all know vitamins are super-important for health.

But vitamin D is extra-special.

It's difficult to get enough vitamin D. In fact, it is estimated that almost half of the general public is vitamin D-deficient.

So, let's talk about how much of this critical vitamin we need, and how you can get enough.



Also dubbed the "sunshine vitamin", vitamin D can be obtained through exposure to the sun, food, and through supplements.

The Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and helps us build strong bones.

Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.


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 merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health.



To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.



How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?

Obtaining vitamin D from the sun is the most effective.


Your skin makes vitamin D when it's exposed to the sun; that's why it's referred to as the "sunshine vitamin."How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week.Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and of course in some locations (and seasons of the year) it's not easy to get sun exposure. So, how can we get enough vitamin D in other ways?


How can I get enough vitamin D from food? Vitamin D is abundant in fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. Some mushrooms make vitamin D when they're exposed to the sun.



Some foods are "fortified" (which means vitamin D has been added) with vitamin D. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase 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 of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are quite popular.



How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?

It's easy enough to just "pop a pill" or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra.

But before you take vitamin D-containing supplements, make sure you check that they won't interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a doctor or pharmacist for advice.


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 (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.


The best thing, if you're concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time whilst under their care.


Conclusion

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin which many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of. There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, or from supplements.


If you're concerned, it's best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what's right for you. Always take supplements as directed.


Bonus Vitamin-D-Rich Recipe: Easy Grilled Salmon

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 wild salmon fillets

  • 1-2 stalks of asparagus

  • a pinch of sea salt

  • a pinch of pepper

  • a pinch of dried parsley

  • a pinch of dried dill

  • 4 tbsp olive oil


Method

  • Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin-side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.

  • Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley, and dill. Drizzle with olive oil.

  • Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

  • Serve and enjoy! (Drizzle with some lemon juice if desired)


Tip: For a complete meal, serve with a side of rice, pasta or quinoa.


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