As the days get longer, its time to start thinking about taking Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin; when sun shines on your skin, it activates Vitamin D. D is important for not only helping absorb calcium and enhance bone strength, but also helping to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, MS, and numerous other conditions. If you live north of Atlanta in the winter, you should take vitamin D supplements (either D-2 or D-3 is fine) because the sun is too weak to make D between Thanksgiving and Easter.
Vitamin D was once thought to be abundantly provided by sunshine, but we now know that many people have low levels of vitamin D. Indoor athletes (as well as overweight people) are at high risk for D-deficiency. Even outdoor athletes have been found to have low levels of D, so be sure to ask your MD to have your D level tested.
According to Dr. Michael Hollick, speaker at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Fourth Annual Symposium at Tufts University in Boston, consuming adequate D through your diet is difficult. Fortified milk and oily fish are the best sources, but they might supply only 400 of the recommended 1,000 IUs of D per day.
He recommends taking 1,000 IUs of vitamin D-2 or D-3, especially if you live north of Atlanta during the winter months.