Vitamin D gets a lot of attention these days for its role in supporting overall health, bone density, and immunity. How important is it, and are you getting enough?
We asked two specialists to break down the facts. Read on for the down-low on vitamin D from Michelle W. Book of the Canadian Health Food Association and Dr. Stephen Malthouse of the Canadian Integrative Medicine Association.
Michelle W. Book
In-House Holistic Nutritionist, Healthier by Nature
& Director of Marketing & Communications, Canadian Health Food Association
Vitamin D basics
Vitamin D is one of 13 vitamins that’s made up of a group of steroids that’s both a micronutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. For human health, the most important forms are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.
Vitamin D benefits
Supplementation of vitamin D is associated with a wide range of benefits and can help with:
- The development, building, and maintenance of strong bones and teeth
- The absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus
- Maintaining and supporting immune function
- Supporting biological functions that play a key role in our overall health
Vitamin D helps the body absorb critical nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc which aids mineral uptake by bones. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of osteoporosis.1
Vitamin D receptors are found on various immune cells and has been found to help our bodies defend against pathogens (disease-causing viruses and microorganisms).2
Vitamin D sources
The body gets vitamin D in three ways: sun exposure, diet, and supplementation.
Vitamin D is nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin” because our skin is able to convert sunlight (UVB rays) into vitamin D3 in the epidermis. But there are many factors that can influence how much vitamin D the body can make, including cloud cover, sunscreen use, age, geography, and more.
While it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D naturally, there’s a wide range of supplements that can help ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin.
Visit your local CHFA Member retailer can help find the best vitamin D for you and your family that suits your dosage requirements and lifestyle. Visit Healthier by Nature’s website to learn about the benefits of natural health and organic products.
Dr. Stephen Malthouse
President, Canadian Integrative Medicine Association
Learn the importance of vitamin D for supporting immunity heading into the cold and flu season.
Taking vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D, to optimize your immune system is a smart way to prevent viruses like the flu from taking hold this fall and winter.
“All Canadians need extra vitamin D in the winter,” says Dr. Stephen Malthouse, President of the Canadian Integrative Medicine Association. “Without sunshine to convert the inactive form of vitamin D from your diet into the active form in your skin, your chances of getting a cold or flu are much higher. Even if some foods are fortified, Canadian diets don’t contain adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Vitamin D works best when taken with a multivitamin, vitamin C, magnesium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Usually a high-quality multivitamin contains zinc and other important micronutrients. Together these supplements enhance overall health, improve mental well-being, fight cancer, and help the immune system resist attacks.
“Get ready for winter. Like laughter, exercise, good food, family, and friends, a daily regimen of nutritional supplements like vitamin D leads to a healthier and happier life.”
1.Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et .al. (2009) Prevention of nonvertebral fractures with oral vitamin D and dose dependency: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of internal medicine. 2009 Mar 23;169(6):551-61.
2. Aranow, Cynthia (2011). Vitamin D and the Immune System. J Investig Med. 2011 Aug;59(6):881-6.