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Sunshine Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to a healthy immune system, hormone balance, bone development and cell regeneration. Our body has the capability to make vitamin D through direct exposure to UVB rays (ultra violet B light) from the sun. The body synthesizes the light through the skin to create vitamin D. Approximately 10-25 minutes of UVB exposure at a UV index of 3 or greater (depending on skin tone) will provide the body with enough to meet the recommended daily amount (RDA). Cover face and eyes, and expose the legs and arms for best results.

According to Health Canada the RDA for vitamin D is between 600 international units (IU) to 800 IU per day up to a maximum of 4000 IU. The organization advises year-round vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults.

Due to the angle of the sun at this time of year the amount of daylight decreases significantly. In Canada, during the months of October to March the UV index is too low for the body to utilize and convert UVB light into vitamin D. We must turn to diet and supplements and if possible, a winter vacation to a sunny destination in order to maintain adequate levels.

Vitamin D is fat-soluble meaning it dissolves in fat and is stored in fat cells and the liver. The stored supply can last up to 6 or 7 weeks but it is highly recommended to replenish vitamin D levels daily rather than deplete the body of its reserve.

Although supplements are recommended their efficacy is not a guarantee. Studies show that supplementing with liquid vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable source. Ask the wellness advisor at your local health food store to recommend the best option in the store.

Along with taking supplements, it is important to consume a diet rich in foods containing vitamin D as well as maintain an active lifestyle with occasional winter vacations to sunny destinations, to keep the body in optimal health.

Food with high Vitamin D (IU) content:

Egg Yolk (cooked) – 40 IU
Shitake, Portobello, oyster mushrooms (80g serving) – 25-100 IU
Wild sockeye salmon (3oz serving) -450 IU
Trout, Snapper, Tuna, Mackerel (3oz) – 250-400 IU
Fortified All-Bran cereal – 200 IU
Fortified non-dairy milks (250ml) – 80-120 IU
Fortified orange juice (125ml) -40-50 IU


Jennifer Nicol is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at our Bay & Dundas Wellness Center and Yoga Instructor at our Bay & Dundas and Yonge & Eglinton studio locations.