Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for the human body. Your body can store vitamin D in its adipose tissues. It helps your body in absorbing calcium and phosphorus, which is important for bone growth and maintenance as well as for teeth. Moreover, Vitamin D also plays a role in the functioning of the immune system (1).
There are two main forms of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is mainly obtained from plant sources, while vitamin D3 is produced by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight (2), as well as obtained from food, such as fatty fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products.
Long term vitamin D deficiency can lead to health problems such as rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. However, too much vitamin D can also be harmful, so it's important to get the right amount of vitamin D.
Sources of vitamin D
Sun exposure (3)
Food sources of vitamin D: cow's milk, fortified vegetable drinks, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, albacore tuna, halibut), eggs, etc. (1). Unfortunately, there are few food sources rich in vitamin D.
Vitamin D Supplements
Whether or not to take a vitamin D supplement depends on an individual's personal health status, genetics and lifestyle factors and more. Some people are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those who live in areas with little sunlight, have darker skin, or don't consume enough vitamin D-rich foods. In these cases, taking a vitamin D supplement may be beneficial to help meet daily needs. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, as they can evaluate your individual needs and make specific recommendations based on your health history, lifestyle, etc. Some can also recommend a blood test to check your vitamin D levels before suggesting a diet modification, a supplement or both.
Consuming a balanced and varied diet that includes vitamin D-rich foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products can help support overall health and reduce the need for supplements. To know if your needs in vitamin D are met, you can consult a registered dietitian.
Karine Drouin, RD, registered dietitian.
1- Les diététistes du Canada. Sources alimentaires de vitamine D. In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition® [PEN]. Février 2018. Retrouvé le 23 avril 2023. Access only by subscription. Click Sign Up on PEN login page.
3- Gouvernement du Canada (Mai 2022). Vitamine D. Retrouvé en ligne le 23 avril 2023 au https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-canada/services/nutriments/vitamine-d.html