The Role of Vitamin D on Your Health

What is the role of vitamin D on your health? How does it support the strength of your bones and immune system? Which foods contain vitamin D and…should you take a supplement? Let a dietitian weigh in!

DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in partnership with Jamieson Canada, however all opinions are my own.

What is the role of vitamin D on your health? How does it support the strength of your bones and immune system? Which foods contain vitamin D and...should you take a supplement? Let a dietitian weigh in!

What is Vitamin D?

Alongside vitamins A, E and K, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that when consumed, it is absorbed by the body in a similar manner to that of dietary fats.

Types of Vitamin D:

There are two forms of vitamin D that are available to us. They are:

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – the more effective form of vitamin D that comes from animal sources. In this post, we will focus on vitamin D3.

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – found in plant sources, and known to be less effective at converting to active vitamin D that the body can use.

Sources of Vitamin D:

There are three sources from which we can source our required vitamin D:

From the sun.

There’s a reason its called the sunshine vitamin! When UV rays from the sun hit our skin, a cholesterol compound in our skin (7-dehydrocholesterol) actually get converted to vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 then travels to the liver and then kidneys where it is transformed to the active form of vitamin D. Cool, right?

From foods.

Unfortunately, there are a limited number of foods that naturally contain vitamin D. These include egg yolks (70IU/2 yolks), salmon (250-550 IU/75g), trout (~150IU/75g), mackerel (80IU/75g) and sardines(~150Iu/75g).

As vitamin D does not occur naturally in many foods, some products are fortified with vitamin D3 in order to help us meet our needs. Products fortified with vitamin D include cow’s milk (100IU/250mL serving), fortified soy beverage (80IU/250mL serving), and fortified orange juice (50IU/125mL serving).

For more information on food sources of vitamin D, click here.

From supplements.

Because food sources of vitamin D are so limited, it can be hard to meet your needs through sunshine and diet alone. Especially living in Canada where we only get a handful of warm, sunny months each year. If you’re finding it hard to get enough, taking a vitamin D supplement may be warranted.

What is the role of vitamin D on your health? How does it support the strength of your bones and immune system? Which foods contain vitamin D and...should you take a supplement? Let a dietitian weigh in!

Benefits of Vitamin D:

Research suggests that vitamin D may have a role in several aspects of human health, including:

Bone Health

Vitamin D works in tangent with calcium to promote good bone health. The two are actually a team, because vitamin D increases our absorption of calcium, which we know is integral for strong, healthy bones.

Vitamin D also improves the function of muscles, which can help your balance and decrease the likelihood of falling and suffering a bone fracture.

Immune Health

There are specific nutrients that play a role in supporting and strengthening our immune systems. Scientists believe that Vitamin D is one of them.

Besides vitamin D, some immune-supporting nutrients include vitamin C, zinc and selenium. These nutrients can be consumed by eating a variety of animal and plant foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, meats and legumes like beans, lentils and more.

If you’re looking to take some extra care for your health and immune system this year, you have to try my ultimate vegetarian chilli recipe. It’s full both vitamin C (from tomatoes and bell peppers), and zinc (from all of the beans!). Additionally, it’s sure to warm you up and provide comfort if you’re feeling under the weather.

Should you take a Vitamin D Supplement?

In Canada, it can be challenging to meet your vitamin D requirements through sun exposure and food sources alone. If this is the case for you, a vitamin D supplement may be warranted. Health Canada does recommend that all adults 50 years and older take a vitamin D supplement of 400IUs per day. Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine vitamin D supplementation for Canadian adults year-round.

Because I live in Canada where my sun exposure is limited most of the year, I take a vitamin D supplement daily to support by health. Those who also have limited sun exposure may also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement, like Jamieson Canada Vitamin D3. Taking it gives me reassurance that I’m supporting my overall health, as well as the health of my bones and immune system.

If you have questions about vitamin D supplementation, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian!

Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!

What’s your favourite food source of vitamin D? Do you take a vitamin D supplement? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post about the role of vitamin D in the comments below.

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DISCLAIMER: This post was developed in partnership with Jamieson Canada, however all opinions are my own.

One Comment

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