Vitamin D & Bone Health

Many Canadians are not getting enough vitamin D and calcium and face an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures. In particular, Canadians do not get enough vitamin D in the winter months October through March from sunlight. The northern latitude of  Canada (above 40 degrees North) cannot produce sunlight strong enough to produce sufficient vitamin D in the skin. Research has shown that getting 800IU Vitamin D per day reduces bone fractures associated with osteoporosis in older adults. 

The recommended vitamin D intake for people aged 1-70 years is 600 IU and for those 71 and over it is 800IU. In the summer the average person in the sunlight without sunscreen would get 2000IU per day, but the sunscreen prevents this. Excess vitamin D would be 40 000 IU/day for an extended period of time. This is more than 4 times what farmers and life guards without sunscreen would produce in their bodies. Studies have shown an increase in bone density with sufficient calcium and vitamin D. 

Low vitamin D is also associated with colon, colonorectal, prostate and ovarian cancer. Vitamin D supplementation during infancy protects against type I diabetes and neurological disease such as schizophrenia, bipolar, alzheimer's, autism are more common in people born in the winter months. 


Sources of Vitamin D in the diet


Milk, fortified yogurts, fortified soy milk and milk alternatives, fortified OJ, egg yolks, cod liver oil, sardines, salmon, breads, cereals and margarine.




It can be hard to get enough vitamin D through food and in the winter months from the sun. If you have dark skin, digestive problems, liver or kidney disease or you cover your skin with clothing or sunscreen in the summer you may be low in vitamin D. Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine vitamin D supplementation year round for all adults. Health Canada recommends adults over 50 take 1000 IU daily and not to go over 4000IU/day.


Bottom Line


Vitamin D is important for bone health and has many other benefits. See a registered dietitian or your health care professional to see if you need a supplement.

Vitamin D & Bone Health Vitamin D & Bone Health Vitamin D & Bone Health Vitamin D & Bone Health