Jan. 27, 2023

The Vital Importance of Vitamin D

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

When the sun sets early and the snow is on the ground, I’m always more mindful of getting enough vitamin D. Living in Canada through grey winters, I know that the sun’s rays don’t provide enough sunshine to help my body produce vitamin D in the winter months.

I always make sure to choose foods that are rich in vitamin D, and I also take vitamin D supplements if needed. Why? The body’s immune system requires vitamin D to fight off any invading bacteria and viruses – even respiratory tract infections (such as the common cold). Vitamin D also helps quell inflammation and researchers continue to investigate other possible functions, such as protecting against multiple sclerosis and depression.

Vitamin D is also crucial for bone health. It works in partnership with other bone-building nutrients, such as phosphorus and calcium. In fact, vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. In this role, it helps protect against developing osteoporosis , a disease of weak and brittle bones.

Today we’ll look at sources of vitamin D, why you need it, and how eggs play a role.

How much vitamin D do I need?

The average daily requirement of vitamin D is based on your age and stage.

Life Stage & Age and Recommended Amount

Birth to 12 months

10 mcg (400 IU)

Children 1–13 years

15 mcg (600 IU)

Teens 14–18 years

15 mcg (600 IU)

Adults 19–70 years

15 mcg (600 IU)

Adults 71 years and older

20 mcg (800 IU)

Pregnant and breastfeeding teens and women

15 mcg (600 IU)

Some health care professionals believe that these numbers are too low and that 800 IU per day is not nearly enough to reap certain health benefits. That’s not for me to debate or advise you on; check with your doctor to see if your vitamin D level is adequate (they can check using a blood test) or how much you need per day. You can also ask your healthcare provider to do a blood test to assess your vitamin D status. That can help you decide whether you need a vitamin D supplement, and if so, how much you need to take.

Which foods contain vitamin D?

Your body can make vitamin D from the sun’s rays. That’s why you may have heard vitamin D called the “sunshine vitamin.” Of course, living in Canada means that we don’t have bright sunshine all year round, and winter months mean most of our body is covered by hats, coats, scarves and gloves. This hinders the body’s ability to take in sunshine and convert it to vitamin D.

Clouds, smog, older age, and having dark-colored skin also reduce the amount of vitamin D your skin makes, as does wearing sunblock to prevent skin cancer (which is important to do!)

When sun is not plentiful, you can get vitamin D from foods and supplements. Compared to other vitamins, the list of foods containing vitamin D is quite short. It is found in fatty fish (such as salmon), fortified milk or alternative beverages, specific mushrooms grown in greenhouses, and eggs.

Two Naturegg Nature's Best or Naturegg Omega Plus eggs contain 13 percent of your daily vitamin D. The hens that produce these particular eggs enjoy a special feed that has been enriched with vitamin D, resulting in more vitamin D in your eggs!

So a meal with two of these eggs provides 13 percent of your day’s vitamin D requirement. A cup of milk (any type – whole, 1%, skim, etc.) contains about 45 percent of your day’s vitamin D needs. Eggs and milk for breakfast are a great combination! Try pairing them in this Crustless egg and ham quiche .

What about supplements?

Since vitamin D is not found in many foods, Health Canada recommends that all adults over the age of 50 should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU. Other health care professionals think that everyone should be taking vitamin D supplements daily (regardless of age), and many recommend even more than 400 IU. I’ve noticed that many vitamin D supplements are sold in 1000 IU doses. Check with your health care provider to see what they recommend for you!

Margaret Hudson

President & CEO, Burnbrae Farms