After all the holiday and new year festivities have ended, winter in Canada can sometimes seem to drag on forever. The lack of sunlight during this time of year can lead to fatigue, mood changes, and disruption to our sleep cycles. Sunlight is crucial since it helps our skin produce vitamin D, an essential nutrient for growth, bone health and immune system function. This sunshine vitamin can also help prevent age related macular degeneration, cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems. But what do we do when sunny days are far and few between?
Unfortunately, unless fortified, natural foods contain very little vitamin D. Rather, supplements containing vitamin D3 are best for nourishing your body. Studies show that, in the winter, 40% of Canadians do not have enough vitamin D in their blood. Supplements in the form of drops are recommended over pills, since they are easier to consume and are significantly easier to absorb by the body.
So how much is enough? Health Canada recommends 600 IU (international units) per day for ages 1-70, and 800 IU/day for adults over 70. Osteoporosis Canada recommends 400 - 1000 IU/day for ages 19-50, and 800 - 2000 IU/day for adults over 50. One should not exceed 4000 IU/day. To give you an idea of how much to take, our clinic offers a liquid supplement where one single drop gives you all the vitamin D3 you would need in a day!
Written by Dr. Fabian Tai & Dr. Natalia Fong