Vitamin D: Are we getting enough?
Here in the true north strong and free Vitamin D is fairly difficult to come by. Even as the weather warms up and the sun comes out to play, many Canadians are not getting enough Vitamin D. In Calgary, where the number of sunny days per year exceeds that of any other major Canadian city, 14% of the population studied were still walking around with an insufficiency (< 50 nmol/L) in Vitamin D during summer months (1). This may be due in part to the fact that living in Canada means living at a higher latitude making sun ray exposure minimal compared to places of lower latitude, even in the summer. Statistics Canada reported that about 32% of Canadians had insufficient Vitamin D levels, with those age 20-39 years old most likely to fall below the cut-off of 50 nmol/L.
So why is Vitamin D important?
Due to its structure, Vitamin D actually acts as a hormone in the body playing a few different roles:
1. Bone health: Vitamin D contributes to bone health and maintenance since it promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption.
2. Immune Function: Vitamin D increases anti-bacterial activity of immune cells.
3. Mood / Depression: the mechanism of this is not well understood, but a deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with depression (2).
Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and perhaps even mild to severe depression for those that struggle all year round. Supplementation of Vitamin D in those with depression may be effective in reducing depressive symptoms (3).
What’s the best way to get Vitamin D?
1. Sunshine! Vitamin D is made in the skin when it is exposed to sun rays. Optimal intake depends on amount of light exposure, latitude, time of year, pollution, and skin colour.
2. Oral supplementation: Vitamin D3 is the most biologically active form of Vitamin D and because it a fat soluble vitamin, it is best absorbed when taken with dietary fats such as in an oil suspension.
3. Intramuscular injection: this is done in clinic after Vitamin D levels are tested in the blood to determine if an insufficiency or deficiency is present. Intramuscular Vitamin D3 is more effective than oral supplementation at maintaining blood levels of Vitamin D long term (4). The benefit of this is that it requires one to three injections per year rather than daily oral supplementation (5).
Even in sunny Victoria we are likely not receiving enough sunshine to maintain optimal levels of Vitamin D. So if you’re looking to boost mood and immune function (and can’t swing a hot vacation) come see us at Juniper Family Health to see if Vitamin D injections are right for you!
To book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor at Juniper Family Health please call 778-265-8340 or book online here.
1. Rucker, D., Allan, J., Fick, G., Hanley, D. (2002). Vitamin D insufficiency in a population of health western Canadians. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 166(12), 1517-1524.
2. Anglin, R., Samaan, Z., Walter, S., McDonald, S. (2013). Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202, 100-107.
3. Shaffer, J., Edmondson, D., Wasson, L., Falzon, L., Homma, K., Ezeokoli, N., Li, P., Davidson, K. (2014). Vitamin D supplementation for depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychosomatic Medicine, 76(3), 190-196.
4. Gupta, N., Farooqui, K., Batra, C., Marwaha, R., Mithal, A. (2017). Effect of oral versus intramuscular Vitamin D replacement in apparently healthy adults with Vitamin D deficiency. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 21(1). 131-136.
5. Leventis, P., Kiely, P. (2009). The tolerability and biochemical effects of high-dose bolus vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with vitamin D insufficiency. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 38(2), 149-153.