06 May The sunshine vitamin – do you need more vitamin D?
A reputable doctor recently said that the only thing you should consider supplementing is vitamin D. Have you had your vitamin D levels checked recently? Many people, even here in Australia, where the sun shines quite a lot (!!), are deficient in vitamin D. It is a very important vitamin, which helps your body to absorb more calcium and phosphorous – obviously beneficial for strong bones and teeth.  It is also considered to be a potent inhibitor of cancer growth in the human body.  And other studies suggest that it can have a role in reducing heart disease, depression, and increasing weight loss. 
Interestingly, some of the people with naturally lower levels of vitamin D in their blood are people with darker skin, as the melanin reduces vitamin D absorption, people who have a BMI greater than 30, as the vitamin D is stored in fat and therefore does not circulate in the blood, and older people, as age relates to less vitamin D absorption from the sunshine. 
You can, however, have too much vitamin D, and this can impact your health.  Too much vitamin D can result in too much calcium absorption and result in calcified bones, arteries, and organs as well as kidney stones. . The happy medium is to ingest about 600 to 800 IU per day. 
My experience with vitamin D supplementation
I was told that my vitamin D levels were a bit low late last year. I put a pin in that knowledge for a while but recently decided to get a price for some Bioceuticals vitamin D drops from my local pharmacy. The main thing that precipitated this action was wondering if a vitamin D supplement would help me to wake up earlier. And also, because of the fact that I am still not sure I am getting enough calcium.
So far, the physical symptoms of vitamin D supplementation have been an earlier awakening, with less fatigue in the mornings, a noticeably improved mood, a passing pain in my kidneys, and mental fatigue at the end of the day. It definitely is having a signficant effect on the way I feel in my body, so I am guessing that the deficiency was obviously a ‘thing’ for me.
When should you supplement vitamin D?
As winter in the city results in less direct sunshine, I think it is a good time to supplement this vitamin. If you have had bloods come back saying you are deficient, or you have been experiencing fatigue, low mood, recurring infections, hair loss, bone and back pain or muscle soreness, you might benefit from a supplement as well. 
You can also get vitamin D from some foods, and others are fortified with vitamin D. Common foods that are rich in vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna, egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms, fortified milk, and fortified cereals or juice.  However these foods will likely not be enough to get the right dose of this vitamin.
The guidelines suggest that to get sufficient vitamin D, you need to expose your skin to the sunlight for 10 – 15 minutes two-three times a week – but that vitamin D doesn’t persist in the blood for very long, so winter might be a good time to supplement.
- Wilson, DR, 2017, ‘The Benefits of Vitamin D‘, on Healthline, viewed May 6, 2020, < https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-vitamin-d >
- WebMD, 2020, ‘Vitamin D: Vital Role in Your Health’ on WebMD, viewed May 6, 2020, < https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/vitamin-d-vital-role-in-your-health#1 >
- Harvard Women’s Health Watch, 2019, ‘Taking too much vitamin D can cloud its benefits and create health risks‘ on Harvard Health Publishing, viewed May 6, 2020, < https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/taking-too-much-vitamin-d-can-cloud-its-benefits-and-create-health-risks >
- Sullivan, D, 2019, ‘What are the health benefits of vitamin D?‘ on Medical News Today, viewed May 6 2020, < https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618#sources-of-vitamin-d >