Over the last few weeks we've been looking at the importance of vitamin D to our health, and how you can work out if you are deficient.
Today, I'd like to focus on increasing your vitamin D levels. So, here are 3 natural ways to boost your vitamin D levels...
Despite much talk about skin cancer these days, the sun is your optimal source of natural vitamin D. Short periods outside each day (season permitting), with as much bare skin as is acceptable, will help to boost your vitamin D levels.
It is, however, important that you avoid sunburn. Research suggests that as long as you avoid getting burned, regular sun exposure actually decreases the risk of skin cancer (except in those with skin type one).
The amount of time you will need to spend in the sun is dependant on so many factors, such as where you live, the time of day, your skin tone, etc. But generally speaking, the time needed to make sufficient vitamin D in your body, is typically shorter and less, than the amount of time it takes for your skin to redden and burn.
Food sources of vitamin D are quite limited, but some of these include oily fish, liver, meat, eggs, fortified margarine, and fortified breakfast cereals.
If you live in a northernly climate, it can be difficult, at certain times of the year, to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. This is where supplements can be helpful.
The problem with supplements, however, is their potential to cause toxicity. The way to avoid this, is to make sure you have a regular blood test taken, which measures your 25(OH)D. That is the only way to be sure you are not at risk of toxicity.
When purchasing vitamin D supplements, you must make sure you are buying the oil-based preparation, rather than a "dry" pill.
You also need to check that you are taking a supplement containing D3, rather than D2. Read the label to find out.
Vitamin D in Summary
There are a number of steps you need to follow to optimize your vitamin D levels, and therefore improve your health as a result. These are:
- During the months from April through to September try to spend some time outdoors at least every other day.
- If you cannot get sun exposure year round, consider taking an oil-based vitamin D3 supplement — just remember that to avoid toxicity, it is important to have your blood levels tested every 6 months.
- Your aim is to reach a vitamin D (25(OH)D) blood level of 50–80 ng/ml (125–200 nmol/L).
Please note: it is always a good idea to discuss any supplements you are thinking of taking with your doctor first, before you begin taking new pills.
Over the last few weeks, I've been strongly emphasizing the importance of vitamin D, however, it is important to remember that vitamin D should not be relied upon as a sole strategy to prevent or treat heart disease — it is a powerful addition to a broader program of treatment.
Melanie Thomassian, registered dietitian, online health coach, and author of Dietriffic.com, cuts through the misconceptions about diet and fitness to help you transform your health for life. Visit her website to learn more, or check out her new healthy eating guide.
Published On: June 17, 2011