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D is for Deficiency

posted Jan 27, 2014, 5:11 AM by AndrewandSarah Witzel

Vitamin D is an essential substance that a large number of Canadians are lacking in adequate amounts. Vitamin D is required not only for bone health, but potentially also for preventing cancer and heart disease.

Unlike most nutrients, vitamin D is not found in adequate amounts from food sources. Some fortified products (e.g. milk), egg yolks, and certain kinds of fish contain some vitamin D, but your body’s main source of vitamin D is actually sunshine! Sun exposure actually causes your body to produce vitamin D, which is why is it sometimes called the sunshine vitamin.

Image courtesy of Andrew Witzel

However, most months of the year in Canada our exposure to the sun is not enough to stimulate vitamin D production. In the summer months sunscreen should be used to prevent sunburns and decrease skin cancer risk, which also decreases vitamin D production. Therefore supplementation is frequently recommended (check with your healthcare provider for his or her suggested dosage for you). It is important to note that tanning beds are not a safe way to increase your vitamin D levels, as they increase the risk of skin cancer.

The relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression is still unclear. Many studies have shown a link between depression and low vitamin D levels, but it has not been proven that vitamin D deficiency actually causes depression. Thus, it is worth discussing with your healthcare provider, as vitamin D deficiency is easy to diagnose and treat!