Blog & Recipes

Do I Need a Vitamin D Supplement?


“Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, let me synthesize some Vitamin D!” With this fast approaching winter, Vitamin D may be on your radar due to the many roles it has in our bodies. You may have heard that the sun gives us our vitamin D needs, but do we really get enough from sun exposure alone? Most people living above 37 degrees latitude north (above San Francisco, California) have a hard time getting sufficient amounts of Vitamin D for nine months out of the entire year[4]; that’s pretty alarming for us Canadians!

Vitamin D plays a role in many aspects of our health. This vitamin is used to reduce inflammation[2] in the body and also promotes bone growth. Not getting enough Vitamin D is linked with developing rickets (in infants)[1], osteoporosis, and can increase the risk for cancers, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis[4]. The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism published a study analyzing swimmers who spent most of their days indoor for training[5]. The muscle strength of swimmers with sufficient and insufficient supplies of Vitamin D was compared. It was found that those who were deficient had drastically lower grip strength than those who had enough Vitamin D. This shows how important and how vast the role of this vitamin is!

The further above or below the equator you live, the less time for sun exposure you get. Living in the perfect conditions near the equator (up to 37 degrees north or south), it only takes approximately 10-15 minutes[3] to reach your daily dose of vitamin D in the summer. But most people, especially when living in rainy Vancouver, will have a hard time getting enough sunlight even in the summer months. Sunscreen contributes largely to this because we want to protect our skin.The problem here is that sunscreen actually blocks the UV rays that our body needs to make the vitamin D. But we can’t just stop wearing sunscreen, or we risk developing cancer![3] This makes it hard to find a balance of getting enough Vitamin D, but also protecting our skin from harmful damage.

Luckily for our skin, there are many foods that contain Vitamin D. Fatty fish (like tuna or salmon), eggs, cheese, and fortified foods such as fortified milk or orange juice all contain the vitamin[3]. However you may want to turn to supplementation to ensure you are getting enough, especially if you are pregnant or have a child. You can ask Alex or Stephanie about your recommended dosage.

For many aspects of our health, it is extremely important that you get enough vitamin D year round. We always recommend food first but, because we live in rainy Vancouver, taking a supplement might be the best route for you. Book an appointment today with Stephanie or Alex to learn how you can meet your Vitamin D needs no matter what season it is!

Works Cited

1 Fiscaletti, M., et al. “The importance of vitamin D in maternal and child health: a global perspective.” Public Health Reviews, vol. 38, Sept 2017, pp. 1-17. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1186/s40985-017-0066-3. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017.

2 Helde-Frankling, M., and Linda Björkhem-Bergman. “Vitamin D in Pain Management.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 18, Issue 10, Oct 2017, pp. 1-9. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.3390/ijms18102170. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017.

3 McNeill, Anne M., and Erin Wesner. “Sun Protection and Vitamin D.” The Skin Cancer Foundation, 18 May 2016, http://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/vitamin-d/damage. Accessed 10 Nov. 2017.

4 “Time for more Vitamin D.” Harvard Health Publishing, Sep 2008, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d. Accessed 10 Nov. 2017.

5 Wium Geiker, N., et al. “Vitamin D Status and Muscle Function Among Adolescent and Young Swimmers.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, vol. 27, Issue 5, Oct 2017, pp. 399-407. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2016-0248. Accessed 12 Nov. 2017.


82 views
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle

© 2017 Vancouver Dietitians