Vitamin D

I have gotten so many great questions from you guys and they are ALL important and will be addressed here. You’ve asked about which vitamins are best to take during this flu season; the health differences between honey and agave; dealing with toddlers who are picky eaters; benefits of drinking water (and how much to drink); healthy eating on a budget; how to make sure babies are getting enough iron; and even a question about vitamins that are good for men’s health! My male readers may be a small group, but they care about nutrition just as much as the rest of us!

There is so much valuable information to be shared and I am excited to be a part of that for you. Today I am talking about Vitamin D, because it pertains to all of us: women, men and children. It’s a great vitamin because it is one of the only ones that our bodies can produce naturally. But there are too many people with a vitamin D deficiency. I believe that with a little more information and awareness on how to ensure you are obtaining sufficient levels, many health issues can be avoided. This is especially important for your little guys and gals because their bodies are always changing and adapting, and they need the proper vitamins to support that. A recent study revealed that 20% of children 11 and under do not get enough vitamin D.

Basically, you need to obtain vitamin D from natural sunlight. You could try drinking 10 glasses of orange juice and/or milk a day or eating salmon for dinner six days a week, but that’s just not realistic. There are also vitamin D supplements, which work fine for people unable to get daily sunlight, such as the elderly or those in certain climates. However, the easiest, cheapest, and best source is the sun. Great news, right? Just 10-20 minutes per day and you are fully loaded with your vitamin D!

Here’s a quick overview of how it works:

1. You need to expose at least 10% of your body to natural sunlight five days per week.

2. The sunlight is turned into vitamin D in the skin.

3. The vitamin D enters the liver to get modified into 25-hydroxy vitamin D (this is the type that is measurable in your blood by doctors).

4. Vitamin D then moves to your kidneys where it is modified into its active form, 125-dihydroxy vitamin D.

5. 125-dihydroxy vitamin D tells your intestines to absorb calcium efficiently and regulate blood calcium and phosphorous for healthy and strong bones.

Vitamin D is essential for proper calcium absorption. You can eat yogurt and cheese and drink milk all day long, but if you are vitamin D deficient, you will be calcium deficient too. Some common diseases that are directly linked to vitamin D deficiency are osteoporosis, high blood pressure, rickets, cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and some autoimmune diseases. One of my readers did ask if we should all be taking vitamin D supplements during the flu season. In some studies those infected with the flu virus also tested deficient in vitamin D. But bottom line is you need it for overall health, not just now but all the time.

The problem is, people are so concerned about sunscreen these days that they are actually intentionally blocking the vitamin D out. Even an spf 4 sunblock is enough to prevent the rays from hitting your skin and creating vitamin D. I’m not suggesting you go out and fry yourself. Trust me, my mom has red hair and freckles. I know how harmful the sun can be! But don’t be afraid to have your morning tea on your back patio and soak up a few rays before applying your daily moisturizer with spf 45 that you’re so reliant on to keep your skin wrinkle-free and youthful. And it’s okay to send your kids out to play for 10 minutes before turning them into little white ghosts. They NEED the direct sunlight! For those of you at work inside all day, try taking a 10 minute walk over your lunch break or eating outside a few days a week.

If you are concerned you are not getting enough vitamin D, I recommend getting tested and then speaking with your doctor about a quality supplement to take if needed. There is a wide range of supplements, so get informed prior to making a decision.

So take some time today to enjoy the fall sunshine, and you no longer have to think of the sun as a big evil animal in the sky. It’s there to help you stay healthy!

By the way, as I am typing this I am looking out into a snowy backyard here in Denver… guess I have to eat salmon for dinner!


  1. terrific blog post ann! So, if you do live in a cloudy climate, does the sunlight shining through the clouds help with Vitamin D? Do you have to stay out a little longer?

  2. Ed,

    Good question. You do not produce quite as much vitamin D on a cloudy day, so you would want to stay outside a little longer if possible. Another factor in vitamin D production is race - darker people take longer to obtain their vitamin D from the sunshine. These people should really try to be outside at peak sun hours.


  3. Congrats on the new blog Ann! My sister Sheilagh sent me the link today and I have already added it to my favorites. I too was going to ask- what about cloudy days? It has been awhile since we've seen the sun here in MN.
    I look forward to reading your blog...we need all the help we can get.
    Hope all is well with you...Megan, Tony and kids (Torrini)

  4. Nice informative post Ann :)
    Vitamin D is so amazing. Here in NZ where its quite sunny a bit of the time, research shows that still, 65% of the population is deficient. The more I learn about vitamins and minerals and their cooperation with eachother, the more I realize how valuable well researched supplements are.
    I just put my mom(in the states) on a multi vit and a bone protective supplement, as she lost a bit during menopause. Have you heard of xtendlife? Its meant to be pharmaceutical grade. Anyhoooo, going to see how she goes, I'm hopeful it will make a difference.
    Look forward to your next post! So fun to chat about this stuff

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