There are so many benefits to ensuring our bodies get enough vitamin D. If you haven’t already, read our recent blog post by clicking here to learn more about what vitamin D is and all of it’s health promoting magic.
Vitamin D Deficiency
You’d think that for a vitamin with so many health promoting benefits we’d all be ensuring we're getting optimum amounts, just like we aim for 2 liters of water per day. So, it may surprise you to learn that vitamin D deficiency is actually a "thing" and, what’s more, it’s a very big one at that.
In fact, vitamin D deficiency is becoming so ubiquitous for the general population that one study found more than 40% of the U.S. population has a vitamin D deficiency. Some authors have even referred to this vitamin D deficiency as a worldwide pandemic.
So, let’s get to the good stuff: how do we get vitamin D? Well, we can access vitamin D via the sun, in a small selection of foods, and through supplements.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin the body can actually synthesize in response to sun exposure. This means that, theoretically, vitamin D does not necessarily need to be provided from the diet or supplements. It ain’t called the "sunshine vitamin" for nothing folks!
The benefits of sun exposure go beyond vitamin D synthesis (and a tan). Exposure to sunlight maximizes the effect of the greens you consume, morning sun exposure may help those with seasonal affective disorder, and sun exposure helps to regulate our melatonin levels which, in turn, regulates our circadian rhythms and assists with the prevention of cancer and disease.
So you’d think that the solution is simple: get more sunlight! But that's easier said than done.
Consider this. How much time do you spend outside exposed to the sun on an average day? How much sunlight are you exposed to in winter? People don’t tend to head outdoors during the weekday (ban the 9 to 5!). We exercise in a gym instead of on the streets (because: rain). It’s no longer socially acceptable to walk around in our birthday suits so, we cover up. And to top it off, the dreaded M word (melanoma) - the negative impacts of sun exposure often mean we stay in the shade, take it indoors, or wear even more clothes. Few of us can relocate to a tropical destination or bask in the sunlight during the workweek. And getting sun exposure during those winter months? Forget it.
It follows that a safer, easier-to-source alternative to sun exposure is our food, right?
Vitamin D in Food
Vitamin D2 is found in plant-based foods and is suitable for vegans. Vitamin D3 is only available from our diet via animal sources.
Not all vitamin D is equal. Current guidance provided by a number of government bodies around the world, including the US National Institute of Health, states that the two forms of vitamin D (vitamin D2 and D3) are equivalent and can be used to equal effect. However, researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom recently conducted a study in which it was discovered that vitamin D3 was twice as effective at raising vitamin D levels in the body as vitamin D2.
Very few foods contain vitamin D3. The list is limited largely to fish, cod liver oil, eggs, mushrooms, and a small handful of other foods.
Considering that even omnivores struggle to reach their daily quota of vitamin D, it's all the more challenging for vegans and vegetarians as the majority of foods containing vitamin D3 are animal based. This limits vegans to foods fortified with vitamin D, such as fortified tofu, spreads, and juices. Helpful, but simply not enough.
Vitamin D Supplements
Supplements are a quick, easy source of vitamin D, which is helpful since it’s not always easy to get your daily dose from food and the sun.
But, as with any other supplement, it’s important to put in the time to do some background research when choosing your Vitamin D. Don’t worry! We’re here to help.
Without any further delay, let us introduce you to the newest supplement primed and ready to join the Ora Organic family. The aptly named, Sol Food (sign up now to be the first to know about its release!). Sol Food is your ultimate vitamin D supplement. We think it is an absolute babe and you will too once you check out some of her features:
She prefers Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3’s biological mechanisms provide it with far superior absorbability and efficacy. Vitamin D3 is more readily metabolized in the liver where it is converted into its bioactive form which, in turn, is then converted into its hormone form. This same process takes much longer in the case vitamin D2.
She’s vegan baby! – Vitamin D3 is primarily derived from animal-based foods. Sol food brings you vitamin D3 derived from an entirely plant-based source – lichen: a natural symbiosis of algae and fungi. As an added bonus, she’s free of fillers, additives, and artificial coloring. Oh and she’s organic too. #dreamboat.
She’s big on bioavailability – Sol Food contains organic sunflower lecithin. A health supplement in and of itself, sunflower lecithin helps to keep cell membranes permeable, allowing the vitamin D3 to be easily absorbed into your system.
- She provides 2,000 IU per pop – recent research and some influential experts suggest that we should be aiming for about 2,000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D per day.
So how do you know you're deficient in vitamin D, and how much is too much vitamin D? Be sure to stay tuned for the next post, where we'll discuss in more detail vitamin D deficiency, the factors which contribute to overall vitamin D levels, and the importance of not surpassing upper Vitamin D level recommendations.