The Sunshine Vitamin: Vitamin D For Superior Health

Anyone who knows me, knows that taking supplements has been part of my daily routine for decades, and vitamin D has been a massive part of it. I admit I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to health and wellness. I am often my conventional MD’s worst nightmare as I do a lot of research and challenge these doctors on their “by the book” advice. I always go to my appointments prepared, often armed with a stack of books or articles I have recently read. I have lab test results going back 25 years as I have always wanted to maintain a baseline and I track everything on an excel spreadsheet. Yes, I know. Obsessed much?

If you have read my prior posts or blog articles, you will know that vitamin C is at the very top of my supplement list. Vitamin C, The Master Nutrient Hiding in Plain Sight. The second supplement I am a major proponent of is what people often refer to as, ‘the sunshine vitamin’.


Many of us are deficient in this vitamin. A hormone produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight, vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body needed to keep teeth, muscles, and bones healthy. Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function and may also protect against a range of other diseases and conditions.

There are two major types of vitamin D; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants and is not produced by the human body. The only real food source of vitamin D2 are wild mushrooms or mushrooms produced under UV light. Some dairy-free milk is often fortified with vitamin D2 such as soy, coconut and almond milk.

Vitamin D3 can be produced by the body when sunlight strikes bare skin. It can also be ingested through a diet particularly high in fatty fish, fish oils, egg yolk, butter and liver. Vitamin D3 has been shown to be more effective than vitamin D2 in raising blood levels. therefore, when selecting a vitamin D supplement, you should select vitamin D3 over D2.

Vitamin D deficiency is very common and it is estimated that roughly one billion people worldwide have low levels of the vitamin in their blood.

More and more studies are citing the importance of maintaining healthy vitamin D blood serum levels. Staying indoors, always using sunscreen when outside, living far from the equator, having dark skin, being elderly, overweight or obese are all contributing factors to having a vitamin D deficiency.

According to Dr. Thomas E Levy, “a deficiency in vitamin D increases all-cause mortality, and individuals with higher vitamin D levels live longer than those with the lowest vitamin D levels.” [1]

Because symptoms are often subtle, most people don’t know that they are vitamin D deficient. Some signs and symptoms of possible vitamin D deficiency are:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Frequent sickness
  • Bone loss
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone and back pain
  • Depression
  • Impaired wound healing

As a rough guide, Levy suggests maintaining a vitamin D level between 125 – 200 nmol/l (50 and 80 ng/ml in the US).[2] As most people are deficient, it is easy to maintain these levels by supplementing between 2,000-3,000IU per day.


Although you can get some vitamin D from animal-food sources and through (unprotected) sun exposure, I would like to share a personal story of why I am a huge advocate for supplementing with vitamin D.

My husband and I have the good fortune of being able to spend many months a year in sunny climates. About five years ago, after spending six weeks in Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, we returned home and a week later visited our doctor for annual checkups.

Despite my constantly asking, at the time, my husband was not supplementing with vitamin D. As an avid golfer and surfer, he was convinced he was getting adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun.

As my husband had no record of having his vitamin D level tested in the past, I suggested that at this doctor’s appointment he consider including it on his lab-work. He agreed, and, low and behold, the test results came back showing he was extremely deficient in vitamin D.

Sunscreen could not be blamed, as at the time he was not a frequent user and he had a decently well-balanced diet. It was a good reminder as to why I chose to take vitamin D supplements. It simply solidified what I intuitively felt; that no matter how good our diet or how much time we spend in the sun, it is still possible that we may be deficient in this very important hormone.


There is another reason your vitamin D levels could be low. Magnesium and vitamin D go hand in hand. Magnesium regulates key enzymes that convert vitamin D into the active form used by the body. A recent review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels. Therefore it is important to also have your blood serum levels of magnesium tested as it doesn’t matter how much vitamin D you get from your diet or the sun, inadequate magnesium will ultimately mean inadequate vitamin D.


Speak with your doctor about your vitamin D level and if you don’t have a record of what this level is, request to have it tested. You will most likely have to pay for the test but it is well worth the cost. Have this your vitamin D level tested annually and ask for a copy for your own records so you have a baseline and can compare future results.

When selecting your supplements know the source. Be aware that dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that unlike prescription drugs, these aren’t required to meet the same strict standards. There are many good, high-quality products out there, but there are also a lot of not so good ones.


When possible, purchase supplements from a natural health store versus a drug store. Speak to the experts at the health store as they are very knowledgeable. Look for supplements that have been third party tested. Choose brands that have a good reputation and have done the work to certify and test their products. Look for consumer ratings about the company and product. Be aware of additives and fillers and be wary of where the ingredients are sourced. Be vigilant about vitamins coming in from Asia. Local is always best.

Be sure to take your vitamin D supplement with your fattiest meal of the day as it is a fat-soluble vitamin and is absorbed best this way.

As always, remember to advocate for your own health and be prepared for visits to the doctor by doing your own research. Try to eat a well-balanced diet, take some sun each day (avoiding the peak UV times) and consider supplements as needed. Get your spouse and children on board and be sure they are also getting their vitamin D and having their levels tested regularly. Make it a family affair!


[1] Levy, Thomas E. Dr. (2019) Magnesium, Reversing Disease. MedFox Publishing, LLC
[2] Levy, Thomas E. (2019) Magnesium, Reversing Disease. MedFox Publishing, LLC
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