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Natural Medicine Blog

Dr Lauren Procopio, ND

The Critical Vitamin of Winter

Vitamin D deficiency and it's effects to your health

Winter is upon us in Seattle, which means we’ve said goodbye to the sun for at least another 6 months. It’s true that at our latitude in the Pacific Northwest we don’t have the opportunity to make much vitamin D. The sun is only at the appropriate angle for a couple of months in midsummer, and many people don’t sunbathe during that time.

Most people know that sun exposure is connected to vitamin D levels, but don’t know why they should care about that.

Why is vitamin D important?

Vitamin D is important for regulating calcium levels in the blood by affecting the small intestine, kidneys, and bones. Vitamin D is also involved with the immune system. Deficiency of this vitamin impairs the functioning of T-cells and is also associated with autoimmune disease.

How do you find out your vitamin D level?

Vitamin D levels can be determined with a simple blood test. If you live in rainy Seattle, your level is almost guaranteed to be low. 

What is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D?

The recommended daily dose is 600 IU per day.   

So what is the best way to increase your level of vitamin D? 


  • Full body sunlight exposure (at the appropriate latitude) for about 15 min a day
  • Eat vitamin D-rich foods: 

Food

Serving

Vitamin D (IU)

Vitamin D (mcg)

Cod liver oil

1 tablespoon

1360

34

Salmon

3 ounces

425

10.6

Herring

3 ounces

765

19.1

Shrimp, canned

3 ounces

90

2.3

Sardines, canned

3 ounces

255

6.4

Cereal, fortified

1 serving (usually 1 cup)

40 to 50

1 to 1.3

Egg yolk

1

25

0.63

Cow's milk, fortified

8 ounces

100

2.5


* Take supplements, under the supervision of a physician. Vitamin D supplements come in many forms; liquid, capsules, gels, topical creams. Talk to your naturopath about what form and dosage are right for you.


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