Vitamin D is essential for numerous body functions ranging
from supporting our bone health to regulating our immune
system. Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D functions more like a
hormone, whereas every cell in our body has a receptor which
allows it to absorb vitamin D. It can be synthesized by our
body when our skin is exposed to sunlight. For this reason, it’s
often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” Interestingly, how
much vitamin D we make depends on a number of factors
including genetics, age, and skin tone.
Studies show that approximately 41% of us are vitamin D
deficient, which can have some serious health consequences
such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
People who are vitamin D deficient may experience frequent
illness, chronic fatigue, bone or muscle pain or depression.
There are three key sources of vitamin D – sunlight, dietary
sources, and supplements. Sunlight is the most common (aim
to be outdoors at least three times per week for approximately
20-30 minutes between 10am -3pm). Another way to boost your
vitamin D level is through food. Some sources high in vitamin
*sardines + fatty fish (mackeral, salmon, and tuna)
*non-dairy milk (i.e. almond or soy)
*fortified breakfast cereals
*fortified orange juice
*Note: since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, pairing it with
high-fat foods such as avocados or nuts can help increase
In addition to vitamin D-rich foods, vitamin D supplements in
the form of capsules, tablets, and drops are often
recommended. The current RDA (recommended daily
allowance) of vitamin D for adults by the National Institute of
Health is 600 IUs (International units) a day.
What I have seen with my clients is that most need at least
1000 IUs a day, especially during the winter months. Also, if
you are taking a vitamin D supplement, adequate calcium,
vitamin A, vitamin K, and magnesium intake are required.
Increasing vitamin D will also increase your body’s needs for
all of these nutrients.
Having an adequate level of vitamin D is a critical factor to
support our health. It plays an important role with almost
every system in our body. Most labs have a range for vitamin
D between 25-80 ng/ml. I aim to keep my clients between 40-
I encourage you to be pro-active and ask your doctor
or healthcare provider to assess your vitamin D level at least
annually for you to be healthy. So, as always, please consult your physician before
starting any new health-related routine or taking any new
Meghan Punda is nurse practitioner and functional nutritionist.
She works with women on lifestyle and dietary issues. Meghan is
passionate about educating her clients so they can reach their full wellness potential.
Fullscript blog: Health Benefits of Vitamin D and Best Sources
by Laura Dan BSc, NDTR. December 3, 2019.
Medical News Today: What are the health benefits of vitamin
D? by Megan Ware RDN LD. November 7, 2019.