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Common Sense Approach to Vitamin D - Dr. Clare Craig

Jun 26, 2013

We may all be aware of the connection between bone health and Vitamin D.  However, beyond assisting in the use and absorption of Calcium, and prevention of Osteoporosis, Vitamin D has been shown to have a positive impact on prevention of almost every known chronic disease.


Why is D so important?

Activated Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that acts as a gatekeeper at more than 2700 sites on the human DNA genome, turning on genes if needed and turning them off when appropriate.  If Vitamin D is maintained in the optimal range, it can assist in disease prevention.  In some studies, optimal levels resulted in the following:

  • 77% reduction in all cancer incidence
  • 25% reduction in cardiovascular disease
  • 33% reduction in diabetes
  • 64-90% reduction in cold and flu
  • connections to other conditions such as depression, MS, cognitive health, autoimmune disease, muscle pain and weakness


What are appropriate levels?

The optimal range of Vitamin D, or 25(OH) D is 75-80 nmol/l.  At this range, 70-97% of Canadians have insufficient levels!


How do I know if I’m deficient?

A blood test is the only sure way to know, but a qualified health care practitioner can do a thorough assessment and order a blood test.


How can I get enough?

Canadians living between 43-55 degrees of latitude (including Nanaimo at 49 degrees) have 4-5 winter months where UVB rays from the sun are not strong enough to produce adequate Vitamin D), and we know that here in the Pacific Northwest we have many cloudy days that obscure the sun from reaching us, perhaps more than we like.  Also, in summer, many of us put on sunscreen which prevents us from being able to produce Vitamin D.  It can be helpful to spend some time in the sun during off-peak hours (without sunscreen) to encourage your body’s natural production.


What about food sources?

The only true food sources of Vitamin D are fish, liver, and egg yolk, but generally these are not high enough to achieve an optimal blood level.  That is why most people are encouraged to use supplementation.  As a general rule, it is safe for someone without high exposure to take 2000 IU/day without a risk of toxicity, but it is always a good idea to consult your ND or MD for assessment and testing, to make sure you are also getting the necessary co-factors to ensure absorption and effective use of Vitamin D, and to provide recommendation of a quality supplement.


Dr. Clare Craig, ND, CD(DONA)
Naturopathic Doctor, Doula
Island Optimal Health & Performance
Island Optimal Health & Performance
#103-1808 Bowen Road
Nanaimo, BC   V9S 5W4




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