In Northern countries like Canada, many people are deficient in vitamin D. Why is this? In fall, and even more so in winter, the rays of the sun are less intense in these parts of the world. Since the body manufactures vitamin D3 – or cholecalciferol – upon exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (hence its nickname, “sunshine vitamin”), it goes without saying that less sun means less vitamin D.
Properties and effects of vitamin D
- It contributes to good bone density in later years (and helps prevent osteoporosis).
- It is thought to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer (prostate, breast and colon, among others).
- It is believed to help prevent cardiovascular problems.
- It may reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder (due to lack of light).
Sources of vitamin D
- fatty fish and certain seafood (e.g. salmon, bluefin tuna, oysters)
- vitamin-D enriched cow’s milk and soymilk
- mushrooms (especially Shiitakes)
- Vitamin D3 supplements taken on a daily basis during winter* to ensure the body has a sufficient supply during that season.
People most at risk of vitamin D deficiency
- People 50 and over
- Those with a dark complexion
- Those who seldom go outdoors
* To find out the daily dose of vitamin D that would be right for you or to learn more about other types of supplements, vitamins and minerals, talk to your pharmacist.