Finally, the return of the heat and the sun, which are more present to brighten our days. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium. It promotes a good immune system. This is why a sufficient intake of vitamin D is particularly important as we age, especially for maintaining good bone health. An American study has even demonstrated a correlation between vitamin D and longevity!
This month, boost your vitamin D by sunbathing for about 20 minutes every day. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen with a minimum 30 protection before each session!
Why the sun vitamin?
If it has this nickname, it’s because the great majority of it comes from the sun’s UVB rays when they come into contact with our skin, unlike other vitamins that are mainly supplied by our diet.
The risks of deficiency in aging
As we age, the skin gradually loses its ability to absorb and synthesize vitamin D. This is why doctors often recommend supplementing with vitamin D after the age of 50, because we lose our ability to absorb it at this age.
What’s more, during the long Quebec winters, the power of the sun’s rays isn’t strong enough to trigger this production of vitamin D by the skin.
Vitamin D in prevention to live better longer
An impressive number of studies have demonstrated the health benefits of vitamin D. According to them, vitamin D is able to prevent and slow the progression of different types of cancer and to prevent the appearance of advanced and invasive types of the disease, including metastases.(3)
Vitamin D also plays an essential role in bone health by helping the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestines. By ensuring good bone health, we decrease our risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures.
Vitamin D also helps maintain healthy muscles and improves mobility, an essential factor in the quality of life for seniors.
But that’s not all! Vitamin D promotes good mental health and helps fight cognitive deficits.
H3 Foods rich in vitamin D
Nutrition is a key factor in maintaining good health. Eating a balanced and varied diet provides your body with a good number of essential vitamins and nutrients.
Vitamin D is mainly found in proteins such as fatty fish – like salmon and sardines – as well as in egg yolk. Look for foods fortified with vitamin D, like certain dairy products and plant-based drinks and even some orange juice! Don't hesitate to refresh yourself with drinks full of vitamins and try new recipes, such as this delicious smoothie rich in vitamin D, thanks to its vegetable milk base
Since the diet is often not sufficient to attain a proper level of vitamin D, and the sun shies away in the long winter months, taking a vitamin D3 supplement (1,000 IU and more) is an easy and beneficial step in preventing deficiencies in most people.
In fact, for adults over 50, the amount recommended by Health Canada is from 800 to 2,000 IU per day.
Of course, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first about whether vitamin D supplements are a good option for you depending on your state of health and your medication, to avoid any contraindication.
Have a sunny summer!
(1) Smit, E., et al. The effect of vitamin D and frailty on mortality among non-institutionalized US older adults. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr., published online June 13, 2012.
(3) Feldman, D. et coll. The role of vitamin D in reducing cancer risk and progression. Nat. Rev. Cancer. 2014; 14: 342-357.