Vitamin D3 is the current supplement “du jour”.  We are told by experts that we need vitamin D3 for our bones (D3 is the D vitamin recognized for bone health).

Let the sunshine in, let the sunshine in...the sunshine in!

We are also told that vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as an epidemic in the United States, according to Michael Holick – Boston University School of Medicine’s article “The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences.”  The article continues “with the absence of sun exposure 1000 IU of cholecalciferal (a form of Vitamin D also called Vitamin D3) is required daily for both children and adults.  Vitamin D deficiency causes poor mineralization of the collagen matrix for your children’s bones leading to growth retardation and bone deformities knows as rickets.  In adults, vitamin D deficiency induces secondary hyperparathyroidism, which causes a loss of matrix and minerals, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.  Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness, increasing the risk of falling and fractures.”

With my focus on bone health, I immediately responded to this epidemic and dutifully made the attempt to purchase my vitamin D3 supplement.  But which one to buy???  I bought a well-known brand and to my surprise when I looked further I noticed the vitamin D3 was carried in soy oil.  Soy oil, unless organic,  is often genetically modified.  Fermented soy such as soy sauce, miso, and tempeh, are considered the most healthy forms of soy and eating only modest amounts of organic tofu are a good enhancement to your diet.

I also noticed an ingredient in this particular well-known manufacturer of vitamin D3, magnesium stearate.  What?  Magnesium stearates are made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil, are used throughout the supplements industry as lubricants and coat every particle of the nutrient.   Even though this is a small amount, it adds up if all of your supplements contain magnesium stearate.   I suggest taking a look at your vitamins to see which ones have this ingredient.

This led me to further research.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means your intestines absorb it only in the presence of dietary fat.  Vitamin D is made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.

There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.

When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.

Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for awhile — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it’s time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they’re needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don’t get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn’t use comes out when you urinate (pee).**

Oh boys, did you get your vitamin D today?

Please note in Michael Holick’s article  vitamin D3 supplements  are necessary “with the absence of sun exposure.”   Here’s what I know.  Kids are spending much too much time inside developing their expertise in the world of computer games instead of playing in the sun.  Adults, when spending time in the sun,  lather up with sun screen to prevent skin cancer.  Therefore it is safe for most people to spend 15-20 minutes a day several days a week in the sun without sunscreen to get the proper amount of  vitamin D your body needs.

According to Amy Joy Lanou, PhD in her book that I often quote Building Bone Vitality “Vitamin D boosts the body’s ability to absorb calcium and is unique among the nutrients and is the only vitamin we make ourselves.  Although it is possible to obtain small amounts of vitamin D from food most is produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight.”

In addition  Vivian Goldsmidt’s, MA also  suggests that spending time in the sun, without sunscreen,  also helps to improve your mood as well as sunlight triggers an increase in the feel-good brain chemical Serotonin”  It’s important to remember that the fairer your skin.

Relaxing in the sun

the less direct exposure is needed to activate vitamin D synthesis.  For people with fair skin, just a short burst of sunshine on their skin will be enough.  And if you’re afraid of going out in the sun without sunscreen lotion, just remember that the benefits of the moderate sun exposure outweighs the risk.   Sun in the morning hours and the afternoon hours are best to avoid skin burn.

The high melanin content in darker skin reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight.  According to Dr. Furhman:  “It is very important for African Americans and other population with dark-pigmented skin to consume recommended amounts of vitamin D”.

And what about Vitamin D in food?

~ Raw milk for some of my readers who are fortunate enough to purchase Raw Milk.  Pasteurized/homogenized milk is fortified with Vitamin D which is synthetic.  Raw milk has the D naturally in the milk in the form of butterfat. (resource MayoClinic)
~ *Canned salmon – 3oz of canned sockeye salmon (wild salmon) contains 675 IU.  Your typical farmed salmon fillet will have about half or less due to the lack of algae in the fish’s diet.  Wild sockeye used in canned salmon is amoung the more sustainable seafood choices available.
~ *Cod liver oil –  1 tsp contains 450 IU.  Cod Liver Oil is high in vitamin A as well.  Many health care providers are concerned with high levels of vitamin A.  If you’re taking other supplements with Vitamin A, keep track of your total intake.
~ *Mackerel – 3oz of cooked mackerel contains 390 IU, and Spanish Mackerel is among the more sustainable seafood options currently available.
~ *Herring – 3oz of cooked Atlantic herring contains 180 IU, and is another good choice from a sustainability perspective.
~ *Sardines – 3oz of canned sardines contain 165 IU, and are an excellent choice from a sustainability perspective, small fish are much less likely to have mercury and other toxins.
~ *Dried shiitake mushrooms. You can, of course, reconstitute them and still get the vitamin D. It’s the drying process that activates the D, so fresh shiitakes will NOT contain the same levels. The author’s calculations suggest that 1 cup of re-hydrated shiitakes (.5oz or 3/4 dry) contains about 130 IU of Vitamin D.  There has been controversy about dried shiitakes from China, so organically grown are suggested.
~ Organic egg yolks. For my New York City readers who are fortunate to shop at the Union Square Green Market, my friend Dan from Grazin Angus Acres raises chickens.  I buy and love their eggs.  In fact, I appreciate everyone from Grazin Angus Acres: Dan, Susan and Chip.  Here’s Dan response to my question of “What do you feed your chickens?”:

“The certified organic grain supplements our chickens get (they are omnivores) is comprised of corn and soybeans.  These supplements tend to comprise approximately 15 – 20% of their daily intake.  Our chickens are ALWAYS ON PASTURE – even in the dead of winter – and so they forage for grass and bugs for most of the day.   It’s surprising how many bugs they find even in the winter”.

In closing, I’m going with the k.i.s.s. approach (keep it simple stupid) depending on nature in all it’s finest; the sun for my vitamin D and whole organic foods  for my other vitamins and minerals.

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…the sunshine in.…From the musical Hair.

*Above information provided by  **

From my bones to yours!


Feeling the groove!