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Vitamin D and Feeling Sluggish

Have You Started Your Vitamin D?

liquid vitamin capsules on a tabletopRecently, I seem to be hearing people talk a lot about the fall cold and flu season. If you have been a little under the weather lately, if you’ve been feeling a little “draggy”, or if your energy is just not what it normally is and you can’t quite figure out why it may be vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is required for many bodily functions. Bone density and immune system function are a few important ones. In our bodies, vitamin D needs to be “activated” in our skin by exposure to the sun.

As a result, just about every Canadian will have low, if not insufficient, vitamin D levels at this point in the winter if they are not supplementing with vitamin D. The combination of very little sunlight, short days, and cold weather leave most of us indoors and without adequate sun exposure to produce enough vitamin D to maintain health. Consequently, our immunity is down and we get sick.

So we need to supplement – during the winter at the very least. But the controversial question is: how much do I need to take? Lots of patients tell me they are taking vitamin D in their multivitamin. Almost without exception, a multivitamin has inadequate vitamin D. It is usually in the neighbourhood of 500 or 1000 IUs (international units).

Recent research shows that the clinical dosage of vitamin D begins in the range of 4000 IU/day. So if you are supplementing with less than this it is probably not helping. That being said, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. That means that you can take too much.

How do you get it just right? Well, you test it. A simple blood test done for two years in a row, twice per year (spring and fall) will give you a really good indication of how much you need to take to maintain healthy vitamin D levels based on your activity levels and lifestyle.

I monitored my own vitamin D through our testing (it’s just a simple finger prick blood test) and discovered that I need to supplement in the winter but not in the summer. I spend a lot of time outdoors in the summer and can activate adequate vitamin D through natural sun exposure so no supplementation is required. In the winter I need some. So I supplement with liquid vitamin D for six months of the year.

Hope that helps. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

- Dr. Craig Dingman

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