Vitamin D Explained

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Contributing Writer
Jeffrey Barkstrom

A popular vitamin to be prescribed seasonally during the winter time in our area is vitamin D. So what is it and how do we get more of it. Or do we need more?

Vitamin D is produced naturally by our body when our skin is exposed to the sun. During the summer at noon for a fair skinned person wearing shorts and tank top (no sunscreen), their body will produce about 10,000 IU of vitamin D in 10 minutes. The daily recommended amount of vitamin D is 10,000 IU. The darker our skin is or becomes from sun tanning or exposure, the longer the time period becomes to get 10,000 IU. Sunburn is excess vitamin D in our skin that our body is unable to absorb. Oatmeal contains phytic acid that is antagonistic to vitamin D and is commonly used to treat sunburn, but if you are hoping to increase your D levels, then it is best to avoid oatmeal.

In the wintertime in our area, most people get minimum exposure to sun and the sun is less direct, so almost everyone is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D levels change with the seasons though, so most people should stop taking vitamin D during the spring, summer and early fall. Excess vitamin D causes nephritis and nephrosis from over activity, and in addition, the kidneys excrete calcium as soon as the serum content rises above a certain level. So taking excess vitamin D can actually promote bone loss.

Too little vitamin D has been linked in research to MS, heart disease, depression and getting the flu.

What are the best food sources of vitamin D? Anybody who has ever watched the little rascals already knows the answer. Cod liver oil is the highest natural source of vitamin D! Unfortunately, due to modern processing to make it more palatable, the amount of D in Cod Liver oil is down to about 1,200 IU’s. All fatty fish tend to also be high in D. Other sources of vitamin D are beef liver and egg yolks. If you look at people who live in northern climates like the Inuit people in northern Alaska or the Sami people in northern Sweden where they can have months of no sunlight, their diets are high in fish and fatty meats. Exactly, the perfect food for their northern locations.

Vitamin D levels are cyclical. Most people may need some supplementation during the winter, but not at other times of year. If you have any questions on this or other health topics, feel free to call our office at (716)665-5015 or come to one of our free workshops. Best of health!

Jeffrey Barkstrom has been helping people with health and weight loss issues for more than 12 years. He has spoken at colleges, businesses, non-profits, national conferences and on television about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. He currently practices at Barkstrom Acupuncture PC, Natural Health Improvement Center in Jamestown, NY. Learn more at www.barkstrom.net or at www.jamestowngazette.com.