What is the best way to absorb vitamin D?
The two main ways for our body to absorb vitamin D are from the sun and also through our diets. It is very difficult to absorb vitamin D adequately from food sources and the sun, so a supplement is commonly advised.
Spending time out in the sun is a great way to get your daily fix of vitamin D. For our body to use vitamin D from the sun, a few processes have to take place. First, the sun’s rays hit our skin and expose us to the UV-B rays. After the sun’s rays hit our skin, a few chemical reactions occur in the liver to create the usable form of vitamin D. The sun is the best source for your body to absorb vitamin D, but there are a couple of points to remember.
Vitamin D absorption is affected by:
- Time of day and year
- The colour of your skin
- Individuals with darkerskin need to spend more time in the sun to absorb the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin. This is due to melanin that is in our skin.1 Melanin gives our skin it’s colour. When we have more melanin, our skin is darker. This blocks more UV-B rays, therefore blocking the absorption of vitamin D.
- Your geographic location
- Those who live farther from the equator, the more of an angle the sun’s rays will hit the earth, and the less UV-B rays there will be to reach you, especially during the winter months.
- Your lifestyle
- Do you spend a majority of your time inside working or studying? Do you work shift work and need to sleep during the day? If this is the case, you may need to consider a vitamin D supplement. However, if you work outdoors, you likely have the opportunity to make vitamin D through your sun exposure.
- How much skin you expose to the sun
- When we expose our skin to the UV-B rays during a day at the beach in a swim suit, at the end of the day, the amount of vitamin D absorbed is equivalent to 10,000- 25,000 IU2. So, the more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can absorb.
- Whether you’re wearing sunscreen
- Sunscreen can block up to 98 per cent of UV-B rays.1
- Your age
- Older adults have a more difficult time producing vitamin D from sun exposure.2
- Air pollution
- Pollution in the air can block some UV-B rays.
There are a few foods which contain vitamin D. You can receive natural vitamin D from fish, mushrooms, and fortified vitamin D from milk products, juices, and some cereals. Though these foods contain vitamin D, it is not enough to meet your recommended daily value. For example, you would have to eat 6oz of raw portabella mushroom or 7oz of salmon every day.
Vitamin D supplement can also help to increase absorption and status of vitamin D, since it is difficult to receive enough from the sun and our diet. A supplement in liquid form, such as Ddrops, is easier for our body to absorb than a gel or capsule form. Supplements provide vitamin D in the form of vitamin D2 or D3. It is processed the same way as our skin, going to the liver, then the kidneys.
- Nair, R., Maseehm A. (2012). Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics. Apr-Jun; 3(2): 118-126. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/
- Office of Dietary Supplements. (2016). Vitamin D – Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/