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Vitamin D Deficiency despite a lot of Sun?

Vitamin D Deficiency despite a lot of Sun?

“How is that even possible? I just got back from 3 months at the South coast of Spain?”

At that time I was living in the Netherlands and had been traveling to the sun in winter time. I was in the GP’s office to get the results of my general medical test and just didn’t understand how I could have a Vitamin D deficiency despite a lot of sun I had been in.

The doctor explained to me that an aging skin does not absorb as much Vitamin D as a younger skin and suggested taking supplements. Until then, I was very reluctant to take any supplement at all. I thought that a healthy diet should be sufficient.

Well, it was my choice; to stubbornly follow my original beliefs or to look at the scientific results and act accordingly.

Why do we even need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from the food into the body. Making it important for the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. In addition, vitamin D plays a role in the proper functioning of the muscles. And even more important is its effect on the function of the immune system.

At the time of writing this, half the world is under the spell of the COVID-19 virus. And I keep wondering why there is so little attention from the governments in a healthy lifestyle in general and the immune system in particular.

We don’t know much about the virus yet, but we do know that many of the people who died were overweight and a lot were already suffering from chronic diseases. All the more reason for me to give extra attention to my immune system.

Who are at Risk of a Vitamin D Deficiency?

Those who live in areas where the sun doesn't shine much are at risk

The following groups are at a higher risk of insufficient Vitamin D levels:

  • Elderly and aging people
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • Those who live in areas where the sun doesn’t shine much
  • People with a dark skin
  • The ones who don’t eat enough fish or dairy
  • Those who are always indoors
  • People who always apply sunscreen

I am a true believer of informing myself as much as I can (aren’t we lucky we live in the time of the internet?) and gaining knowledge by testing. So I want to suggest you to get a general medical test if you think you might have a Vitamin D deficiency.

Testing is important to gain knowledge

When I first took a general medical test I was 63 and I regret I waited that long. The main reason was that I don’t like to visit a doctor. Why would I ask for a test when I am healthy?

But if I had been tested more often and from a younger age on, I would have known much better what ‘is part of me’ and what differs from previous results.

Nowadays I have a test at least once a year.

What strikes me – I am living in Spain nowadays – is that the way of presenting test results and the recommended values differ from country to country. And also from lab to lab. This makes it hard to decide what the right values are.

For me this means that we have to stay critical about results and to keep on educating ourselves.

Food with Loads of Vitamin D

Fatty fish is healthy

At the end of the conversation with my GP, I told about at the beginning of this article, I asked him which food contains a natural supply of Vitamin D. His reply was “none”. Say what?

Thank goodness there is a lot of food that contains Vitamin D. Unless all the food agencies and nutritionists are lying of course. 🙂

  • Fatty fish, also great for providing omega 3. For instance wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and canned tuna.
  • Cod liver oil
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg yolk
  • Almonds
  • Almond milk. Unlike fortified milk, almond milk contains a natural supply of Vitamin D.
  • Fortified food, like milk or orange juice with added Vitamin D

Food containing Vitamin D that I don’t eat or drink myself for various reasons, but are good sources:

  • Soy milk. The film soy milk puts on the inside of our stomach and intestines prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed by the body. Yet for me the main reason not to drink it, is that most of the soy crop comes from the Amazon area. A lot of tropical forest is cut to make way for soy plantations.
  • Liver. I don’t eat cow, sheep, goat, horse or game.
  • Cheese. Dairy lets me get eczema. So although I love cheese, it’s better for me not to eat it.

75% of the world population is lactose intolerant and 2 to 3% has a milk allergy. So I am not the only one having problems with dairy. 🙂

Can we Overdose ourselves on Vitamin D?

Solgar Vitamine D3

An intake of too much vitamin D for a long time can cause damage to the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. Symptoms include nausea, drowsiness, loss of appetite and constipation.

I am not mentioning any intake amounts here, because the way of measuring and representation is different in countries. The main action is to get checked by a GP whenever you are in doubt. Please don’t take any risk.

Am I taking Supplements of Vitamin D nowadays?

As long as my tests show that my values are on the low or average side I am taking my supplements. My main reason for wanting to have values that are on the high side is that I don’t eat or drink dairy. So I also have calcium tablets. In the Netherlands that meant buying 2 kinds of tablets. Over here in Spain the right doses come in one tablet.

And as long as the pandemic continues I am all the more motivated to continue my intake in order to help my immune system.

Do you take any Vitamins? And if so, which ones? Let me know in the comment box.

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26 thoughts on “Vitamin D Deficiency despite a lot of Sun?”

  1. This is such great information. I live in the desert and get a lot of sunshine. most of the summer is spent indoors because it is just too hot. I swim in an outdoor pol almost every morning before it gets too hot. Do you think I am doing enough to get vitamin D naturally?

    • Hi Catherine, I saw a picture of you and you’re waaayyy younger than I am 🙂
      So, yes, I do think you get a lot of vitamin D the natural way.
      To be absolutely sure you should test it of course. I deeply regret I didn’t have tests when I was younger. That way I should now know better what belongs to me personally.

  2. Great article

    I am vegan and I also want to say that vegans are also at risk of not getting enough vitamin D.
    I will bookmark this post so I will be able return to it and use these foods.

  3. Yes! A great article about vitamin D. People who have trouble sleeping despite living healthy might also have a vitamin D deficiency. Every time I stay inside too long I get very tired until I just get a little bit of Vitamin D in from the sun, and also getting too little sun makes me sleep bad. I also did not know that aging skin absorbs less Vitamin D. Very informative. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Chantelle. We’re learning all the time, isn’t it great. 🙂
      Sunlight is so uplifting, don’t you think?

  4. Such a great insight again Hannie in regards to becoming/staying healthy and strong. Like you in the past, I’m not a fan of taking supplements, however your articles are starting to make me rethink my approach and position towards my diet and aging healthy.

  5. This is great information. I have been vitamin D deficient in the past but have forgotten to recheck. I didn’t realize that wearing sunscreen affects vitamin D production as well. Thank you for this valuable information.

  6. Hi Hannie,

    Reading your article makes me feeling grateful for my company because they arrange medical checks for every employee each year, and everyone is required to complete the check. After the check, doctors will come to our office and explain the red numbers on your paper if you got any.
    For me, the doctor simply suggests me to take some vitamin C, so I follow the instruction on a daily basis to avoid getting colds.

    Vitamin D is a topic that has been discussed a lot in my country, but I still prefer to take as much sun as possible to get the enough amount. Once my skin is not working well for it, I would consider taking the supplements you listed in this article.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Oh Matt, aren’t you lucky. I sure wish I had medical checks when I was younger 🙂
      In which country are you and what is the discussion about?
      Thanks for commenting!

  7. Thank you for this article. I stay in tropical countries and get more than the necessary sunlight. Do you think I can still be vitamin D deficient? Is there any obvious sign of the deficiency other than getting it tested?

    • If you are younger than 60 you’ll probably not be vitamin D deficient, but I am no doctor.
      Commonly indicated signs of deficiency are:
      Getting sick or infected often / Feeling tired / Bone and back pain / Impaired wound healing / Hair loss / Muscle pain.
      Quite a list as you can see.

  8. Defintely Vitamin D deficient! Before my doctor confirmed this for me, I observed that I was always feeling so tired no matter how much I rested. I live in Canada by the way, but was generally weighed down with work for my management role that left little time to soak in the sun. Age also played a huge part in the dynamics and like you, I felt that I could get all my nutrients from food intake. Now i know better.

    It’s good to be feeling my usual energetic self again. Great information!


  9. I agree with you we should have a medical test once a year in order to let us know our healthy status. So that we can do something to maintain our health like you. I have learned how to avoid from deficiency of Vitamin D. Thanks a lot.

  10. Thank you so much for this highly informative article! My mother, who is 59, currently has a Vitamin D deficiency and takes a Vitamin D supplement (along with a Vitamin C and iron supplement) to regulate her levels. She loves the good outdoors and spends a lot of time outside, but as you mentioned, she needs more to maintain proper Vitamin D levels. She and I both love to eat, so I’m so happy to see/hear that there are many Vitamin D-rich foods out there! I have saved your site and will definitely be back! God bless you!

    • Great! Yes, good and varied food is so important. Like your mother I don’t get enough from just the food and the sun, so I am also glad with supplements. But I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat heathy food 🙂
      Thank you!

  11. Interesting post on vitamin D. You are right we really need to strengthen our immune system as it is our first line of defence against pathogens. Just the other day I read about how the severity of covid 19 is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and that the deficiency could be the cause of death in coviid 19 patients. However, the evidence is not conclusive. When we are young we don’t think about the future especially in terms of aging. It feels like we’ll stay young forever. Certain things can be prevented, like you say, we need to do some routine checkups so that we may detect early if there’s something that needs to be addressed to prevent unnecessary future sufferings

    • Thanks, Maggie. That’s one of the main problems with the virus right now, isn’t it, lots of opinions that are not always backed scientifically. We can do no more that keep ourselves informed. 🙂


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