Vitamin D is one of those nutrients that isn't super abundant in our food supply. That coupled with SPF and lots of time working indoors, most people are either deficient or at the least, have low levels of vitamin D. Yet, it's incredibly important for our health. Let's dig deeper into all the hype of vitamin D and how we can ensure we're getting enough.
Where do we get it?
The sun is probably the best source of vitamin D. There are few foods rich in vitamin D, so most people don't get enough from food alone. Food sources include fatty fish like salmon and sardines, pasture-raised eggs, mushrooms (specifically, those grown outside), fortified foods like certain OJs, and grass-fed meat has a little too. For most people, the best bet to ensure you're getting enough vitamin D is to take a quality supplement.
Why do we need it?
Vitamin D is historically thought of as a nutrient needed for healthy bones. While that is true, research over the past decade or so has focused on the importance of vitamin D for our overall immune health. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with greater likelihood of infection, as well as autoimmune conditions, diabetes & obesity. And in more recent days, insufficient vitamin D has even been linked to more severe cases of COVID-19 with greater risk for effects like pneumonia and viral upper respiratory infections.
How much do I take?
This answer is really individualized. Have your level checked with a doctor (almost always covered by insurance!), and discuss dosage before starting to take a supplement. Because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, if you take too much of it, it can become toxic in the body. Often if your level is a bit low (ie 25 ng/dL), you may be recommended to take 2K IU/day but for people in the deficient range (<20 ng/dL), your doctor may recommend 5K IU/day for a certain period of time, or even more. It's important to have those levels monitored.
Pro tip: because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it's important to take the supplement with a meal that has fat in it so you can reap the benefits! That would include olive oil, avocado or even something like a whole egg.
Of course, now that the weather is brightening up a bit, we'll all probably be getting more D from the sun, but remember that while SPF is super important, it blocks the creation of active vitamin D. So have the doctor check your vitamin D to determine the right dose for you!