Today your mission is to get the one vitamin most of us are deficient in. And Guest Blogger Marisa Miller Wolfson (of Kind Green Planet) will tell you exactly how;
This vitamin is actually acts more like a hormone, and we produce it naturally when we get enough sunlight. You know where I’m going with this–it’s vitamin D!
Look at some of the cool things that D does:
– protects our immune system
– regulates cell growth
– prevents inflammation
– does your taxes (kidding–just making sure you’re awake!)
– promotes calcium absorption and builds strong bones
In fact, without D, only 10 – 15 percent of dietary calcium is absorbed by the body.
Unfortunately, 1 billion people don’t get enough vitamin D, which includes the majority of people who live at higher latitudes. In winter months, we’re especially at risk, and those who have darker skin are even more at risk.
New studies come out every few months, it seems, linking D deficiency to all kinds of conditions and diseases, including but not limited to:
Dr. Fuhrman says in this article that sunlight “is perhaps the most important source of vitamin D because exposure to sunlight provides most humans with their vitamin D requirement.”
Here are the challenges we face in relying solely on the sun:
-Most of us work indoors during prime sunlight time.
-Glass filters UV rays, so sitting by a window doesn’t work.
-We need to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, yet even weak sunscreens (SPF 8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. In the summertime, an easy solution might be to skip sunscreen on your legs for the first 15 minutes in the sun.
-The farther you are from the equator, the more sunlight you need.
-If you live north of 42 degrees latitude, you will probably need additional vitamin D from supplements during the winter.
Vegan registered dietitian Jack Norris explains in his page on bones, Vitamin D, and calcium:
If you get exposed to the following amounts of midday sun (10 am to 2 pm), without sunscreen, on a day when sunburn is possible (i.e., not winter or cloudy), then you do not need any dietary vitamin D that day:
On all other days, you should take 25 mcg (1,000 IU) of vitamin D2.
Country Life makes one that is commonly available in natural foods stores in the U.S. and is fairly inexpensive. Deva makes one that can be ordered by mail.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fuhrman’s vegan Osteo-Sun supplement contains 1800 IU of D2, plus 375 mg of calcium and 150 mg of magnesium. That’s what I take. Dr. Fuhrman also has a non-vegan Osteo-Sun made with D3 (usually from sheep’s wool or fish), whereas his vegan version is made with D2 (usually from yeast). Most non-dairy milks are fortified with D2, whereas most cow milks are fortified with D3, although unless you’re chugging milk all day, it probably won’t be enough D to get you through winter.
So, if you’re thinking about kicking up your intake of this important nutrient, I say, “just D it!”‘
Marisa Miller Wolfson is the Outreach Director for Kind Green Planet, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching people about healthy, humane, eco-friendly living. She’s currently in post-production for her documentary about veganism and is co-drafting a city council resolution to lower NYC’s global warming “foodprint.” She also loves coaching people on plant-based living through Vegan at Heart, a free email mentoring program for treehuggers, animal lovers, and health nuts who consider themselves vegans at heart but not necessarily in practice.