Opinion

Pratt: Addressing vitamin D deficiency during winter

Even though Kelowna is one of the sunniest places in B.C., a recent study shows that at least two-thirds of people in Canada are deficient in the sunshine vitamin—vitamin D.

A deficiency in vitamin D can cause an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and chronic pain.

Research also shows that low levels of vitamin D can correlate to increased symptoms of multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and asthma.

So what is the cause of this deficiency? Latitude.

Even though Kelowna is known for its sunshine, being above the 37th parallel (Canadian border is on the 49th parallel) puts you at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency due to the angle of the sun, especially in the winter.

That coupled with, being indoors often, low levels of vitamin D rich foods, poor absorption in your digestive tract and darker skin, all increase your risk of being deficient in vitamin D.

So how do you increase your vitamin D levels? The simplest way is to expose your arms and legs to the mid-day sun for 20 to 30 minutes.

You can also consume foods high in vitamin D, such as: fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk and beef liver.

However, if you are vegetarian or are not able to expose your skin to the sun daily, supplementation may be required.

Current research shows that an adult individual above the 37th parallel should take at least 1000 IUs of vitamin D per day and possibly more.

However, please consult your health care professional about what dose of vitamin D is right for you before starting any supplement regime as higher doses can lead to other health risks.

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