Time To Start Taking A Vitamin D Supplement

Time To Start Taking A Vitamin D Supplement

Vitamin D plays a key role in your body’s absorption of calcium and is needed for healthy bones and muscles and to prevent fractures in the elderly.  Recent research suggests that vitamin D may also have benefits in fighting infections, reducing heart disease risk factors, and preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancers (especially colorectal cancer).

Vitamin D is often called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, as our skin is able to make the vitamin when exposed to the sun.  Sun exposure is the most important source of vitamin D because exposure to sunlight facilitates a chemical reaction in the skin that makes vitamin D and supplies it to the rest of the body.  Most people can produce enough Vitamin D by spending fifteen minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen.  Unfortunately, during the winter months UV radiation from the sun is weak, and the season’s short days, and long nights can put Canadians at risk of not getting enough of this essential vitamin.

Vitamin D is also found in oily fish (such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herrings), and in milk, soy milk and margarine, which are fortified with Vitamin D.  However diet alone is not sufficient to obtain adequate levels of Vitamin D.  As such, some Canadians may consider taking Vitamin D supplements during the winter.

There is debate among researchers as to whether the current recommended daily dose of Vitamin is too low for optimal health.  If you are concerned about adequate Vitamin D levels, you should discuss supplementation with your healthcare provider.

Age group Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)   per day Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) per   day
Infants 0-6 months 400 IU  (10 mcg) 1000 IU (25 mcg)
Infants 7-12 months 400 IU  (10 mcg) 1500 IU (38 mcg)
Children 1-3 years 600 IU (15 mcg) 2500 IU (63 mcg)
Children 4-8 years 600 IU (15 mcg) 3000 IU (75 mcg)
Children and Adults
9-70 years
600 IU (15 mcg) 4000 IU (100 mcg)
Adults > 70 years 800 IU (20 mcg) 4000 IU (100 mcg)
Pregnancy & Lactation 600 IU (15 mcg) 4000 IU (100 mcg)

Source: Health Canada