What’s the big deal about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D seems to be the current “next big thing” in medicine right now—everyone is either taking it or being told they should be taking it. But why?
We know it regulates calcium metabolism in the body and we can get it from sunlight. You may even remember from health class that Vitamin D deficiency is responsible for rickets in children and osteoporosis in older adults.
Not so well known about Vitamin D, is that it seems to be important to the immune system and might be a factor in inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, fatigue, depression, chronic pain, and autoimmune diseases as well.
Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, so it is possible to get too much as well as too little.
Sunlight converts the vitamin D in foods and supplements to vitamin D3, the form that the body needs. Spending 10-15 minutes with 40% of your skin exposed to the early morning sunlight without sunscreen is the most natural way to obtain your daily Vitamin D supplement. But getting a sunburn is not a good idea, so be careful to monitor your daily sun exposure.
Certain kinds of fish(herring, sardines, mackerel, and salmon), cod liver oil, and egg yolk are the primary natural food sources of vitamin D. Other foods have been fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice, milk, and breakfast cereals.
If you are going to take Vitamin D in a supplement, a reasonable dose is 2000 IU per day. You should take it with food that has some fat to help it absorb better. Also, it's best taken in the morning because it temporarily pauses the production of Melatonin, the sleep hormone, so it could interfere with sleep if taken at night.
Beverly J. Howard, PhD, RN, FNP-BC