How to Get Vitamin D Without the Sun | GreenMedInfo | Blog Entry.
Thursday, June 13th 2013
Written By: Heidi Stevenson
Certainly, it’s best to get your Vitamin D from the sun. It’s the most natural approach. However, there are other ways if needed. Here’s a guide to those sources, and how to convert IUs to milligrams.
Sunflower in sunshineWhile it’s best to obtain your Vitamin D3 by sun exposure, nowadays it simply isn’t practical for most of us to spend that much time outside. There’s no need to worry, though. Two good options for getting the D3 you need are readily available. One is through suntanning booths and beds, and the other is via supplements.
First, though, let’s take a look at what foods provide D3. Although there’s a diet that can supply adequate D3, it isn’t one that’s readily available to most people, and frankly, unless you’ve grown up with it, the chances are you’ll find it less than appetizing. It’s virtually all meat and animal fat, and much is eaten raw. D3 and other vitamins are readily available in the flesh, organs, and blubber of far north animals, unlike those of lower latitudes. While this diet isn’t readily available to most people, or desirable, it does demonstrate that D3 can be obtained through diet.
It’s helpful to know where you can obtain D3 in your food. As might be expected from the Inuit diet, the best foods for D3 are cold water fish, with cod liver oil at the top of the list. Unfortunately, cod liver oil is very toxic from pollution and should be avoided—not a heartening start!
The current official recommended allowance of D3 is 400 IU. However, this figure is far too low to produce adequate levels in the body. An adequate figure has not yet been established, but 2,000 IU is likely a more reasonable figure. Assuming that, one tablespoon of cod liver oil would produce about 68% of what’s necessary for a typical person.
Update: While optimal intake of vitamin D is still not specified, the best sources of information are stating that 5,000 IUs is a good place for an adult to start. However, unless you know your blood level, you cannot know just how much to supplement.
The best food sources for D3 are:
Food Quantity Content (IUs) Percent of 2,000 IUs
Cod Liver Oil 1 Tbl. 1,360 68.0
Atlantic Herring (pickled 100 gms. 680 34.0
Oysters (steamed) 100 gms. 500 25.0
Mackerel (canned & drained) 100 gms. 450 22.4
Salmon (baked) 100 gms. 360 18.0
Mackerel (fresh & cooked) 100 gms. 345 17.2
Lard (pork fat) 10 gms. 280 13.8/td>
Sardines (canned in oil, drained) 100 gms. 170 13.4
Eel (cooked) 100 gms. 200 10.0
Milk (whole/nonfat, D3 fortified) 1 cup 98 5.0
Beef liver (cooked) 100 gms. 30 1.6
Whole egg 1 Egg 26 1.2
Butter 10 gms. 5.6 0.3
Obviously with most modern diets, eating is not a realistic way to get Vitamin D3! That leaves either supplementation or using a tanning booth to obtain an adequate amount, if you can’t spend enough time in the sun.
Suntanning booths have the extra advantage of giving you an attractive tan. The question is, are they healthy? The two potential problems are burning and skin aging.
While it’s true that sun exposure has been associated with melanoma, a particularly virulent type of skin cancer, there is evidence that it may not be true:
Most cases of melanoma do not occur on skin that’s often exposed to sunlight. About 75% of cases are found in unexposed locations, such as the bottom of the foot.
Melanoma decreases with more sun exposure.
Research from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has shown that the use of sunscreens does not decrease the incidence of melanoma.
A history of sunburn does appear to be associated with melanoma, but there is little to suggest that moderate amounts of tanning are a factor, and much to indicate that it may be beneficial. Gaia Health discusses this in more depth in Suntans Have Nothing to Do with Cancer, But Most Sunscreens Do.
Judicious use of ultraviolet lamps can resolve concerns with the potential of burning. Start slowly, and be particularly careful if your skin is light. Remember that burns often don’t show until hours later.
If your skin is particularly sensitive, it might be a good idea to take a high-dose supplement of Vitamin D for a month before starting your sessions, as it can prevent burning. Of course, be sure to first have a blood test to determine that your systemic D3 level is low. Once assured that it’s low, then you can take 10,000 IUs a day for a month. Not only does UVB light create Vitamin D, the reverse is true: Vitamin D helps protect the skin from burning.