Health Benefits of Vitamin D

With so many health benefits, it's important to get your daily dose of vitamin D especially during these long, dark, winter days

Credit: Flickr/Maria

Make sure you get your daily dose of vitamin D during the dark winter months

Vitamin D is linked to so many health benefits it’s one supplement every B.C. resident needs to take daily during the winter months

Humans can produce vitamin D from sunlight if they get enough exposure. For lighter skinned people 20 minutes a day can be adequate, while darker skinned folks may need up to six times longer.

Since British Columbia is a northern environment we don’t get enough sunlight during the winter on a daily basis to make enough vitamin D on our own.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Adequate levels of vitamin D can help in the prevention of many conditions and illnesses including:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes

Vitamin D can also help boost your immune system to keep you healthy. It’s also required for your body to absorb calcium. To say it’s an essential nutrient is an understatement.

How Much Do You Need to Supplement

Unless you’re a snowbird and spend your winter months vacationing in Palm Springs or Hawaii you should take a vitamin D supplement daily. (Check with your doctor before taking any supplement.)

Supplements come in pill or liquid form. Neither form is better than the other so it comes down to personal preference. 

For most B.C. residents, supplementing with 2,000 to 4,000 IU (international units) every day would provide enough vitamin D to reap the health benefits.

Vitamin D Toxicity

While that amount is higher than most recommendations it’s still within safe limits. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily, while other organizations go as low as 200 IU per day.

There’s debate among the researchers about just how much dosage is toxic to humans. On the low end, 10,000 IU per day seems to be the limit so you’ll be well below that dosage with my recommendations.

Special Form for Vegetarians and Vegans

Most vitamin D supplementation comes in the form of D3 which is the animal form. If you want to avoid animal sources look for a supplement containing the plant form D2 (ergocalciferol).

To get more information on vitamin D, see the Vitamin D Council.

While I take 4,000 IU daily, it’s much more fun getting my vitamin D from the sun while paddleboarding.