Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin available in some foods like egg yolk and mackerel, although the majority of our levels are synthesized by the skin through exposure to ultraviolet light. Vitamin D is critical for a variety of functions in the body and is very important for bone, hormonal, and immune health. Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency can also be associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammation.
To determine your vitamin D status, you can obtain a requisition from your GP or naturopathic doctor to measure 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in your blood. Vitamin D testing is no longer covered by MSP; therefore, will have to be paid out of pocket and the cost is approximately $78.
Optimal serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D levels should be between 100-150nmol/l. Less than optimal levels may benefit from appropriate supplementation with cholecalciferol (D3) and/or exposure to the sun in summer months for ideally 10-15 minutes between 10am and 2pm. For the latter, it’s important to weigh out the benefit and risk of sun exposure and the potential for skin cancer. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine an appropriate dosing amount and length of time before beginning any supplementation, ideally based from your blood levels. If you experience consistently low levels it may be necessary to do a more comprehensive assessment to rule out any underlying reasons for decreased synthesis or absorption (malabsorption issues, drug interactions).
Even in the summer when we have exposure to more sunshine, factors like sunscreen can impair the ability of our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D. Therefore, testing is important at any time of the year to ensure optimal range. Lastly, it’s ideal to obtain a baseline level before any supplementation begins. Happy Summer!