Alberta Cancer Foundation

Vitamin D-efficiency

In an article published on the Canadian Medical Association Journal website, Dr. David Hanley, professor in the department of medicine, community health sciences and oncology, recommends that all adults increase their intake from the current amounts recommended by Health Canada.

Hanley, who is also Calgary centre director for the Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study, says that meeting this recommendation requires a daily vitamin supplement because, unlike almost every other vitamin out there, we can’t increase our vitamin D intake through diet alone. Though milk is fortified with vitamin D, the main source is through the sun’s ultraviolet rays. “Our skin makes vitamin D and knows how to shut it off when we’ve got enough,” explains Hanley. “The problem with that is the increasing concern about ultraviolet light exposure and skin cancers.”

Because increased sun exposure also increases the risk of skin cancer, Hanley recommends that Canadians should take a daily vitamin D supplement, rather than baking in the sun. It’s the best way to get vitamin D, which is required to absorb calcium and for optimal muscle function. Emerging research also shows that vitamin D may help fight infections.