TORONTO - November 16, 2009 – Thousands of independent studies in the past three years have revealed a strong connection between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk for a variety of serious illnesses including as many as 22 forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis, as well as common colds and flus.
This is especially critical to Canadians since as many as 97 per cent of us are vitamin D deficient at some point during the year. Limited sun exposure at northerly latitudes requires that we turn our attention to obtaining sufficient amounts of this essential hormone for good health.
Here are some easy tips to follow to ensure that your vitamin D levels are adequate year round:
Get It Checked! Ask your doctor for a routine vitamin D blood test. Almost every Canadian will be vitamin D deficient in the winter, so getting your D tested is critically important. Vitamin D scientists now recommend that your vitamin D blood levels measure 100-150 nanomoles/litre in concentration. You need a “calcidiol” test to measure this. Once you achieve this level, you may require 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily or more to maintain optimal vitamin D status. Ask your doctor for a vitamin D “calcideiol” test or for a home vitamin D test go to www.GrassRootsHealth.net.
Know where you get your ‘D’. Supplements are helpful, but UVB exposure from sunlight is by far the most abundant and natural source of vitamin D. Most supplements don’t come close to reaching the vitamin D levels achieved naturally through summer sun exposure and since vitamin D experts are now recommending levels that can only be naturally maintained with regular exposure to the sun, exposure in a non-burning fashion should be considered. The UV index must be above three and your shadow should be shorter than you – ideally around noon – in order for the skin to produce vitamin D. This is why October through March in much of
Be judicious with sunscreen. Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or greater will block UVB light that produces vitamin D. Sunscreen should only be used when sunburn is possible or you will be blocking vitamin D production without reason.
Take a vitamin D supplement daily. GrassRoots Health’s “D-action” panel – 30 of the world’s leading researchers on vitamin D – recommend a supplement of up to 6,000 IU daily or the amount required to increase vitamin D blood levels to 100-150 nanomoles-per-litre.
Ensure regular intake of vitamin D-rich foods. Among the most vitamin D-rich foods which range from 100 to 1,000 IU are: fish liver oils, salmon, mackerel, sardines, shrimp and tuna. Fortified sources such as milk may have up to 100 IU in an 8-ounce glass.
Consider responsible use of suntan beds. Canadians with skin that can suntan can viably use tanning beds to increase vitamin D levels, especially from October to March when UVB light outdoors is weak. A full-body suntan can make 10,000-20,000 IU of vitamin D; however, the key is to avoid sunburn. Research shows that indoor tanners have adequate vitamin D levels as a result and have 90 percent higher vitamin D levels as compared to non-tanners.
November is Vitamin D Awareness Month in