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Vitamin D No Longer OHIP’s Problem
Vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, as our bodies produce it in our skin by exposure to the sun, has lately been recognized for its wide range of health protective qualities from preventing heart disease to reducing risks of cancer and other chronic diseases. Why then, as of December 1 of this year, does Ontario feel it not necessary to pay for testing our vitamin D levels?*
According to Health Canada, “vitamin D testing in healthy adults and children is not medically necessary...people should follow Health Canada’s recommendations on diet and vitamin D supplementation.” Canada states that following Canada’s Food Guide should be sufficient for adequate intake of this vitamin, and that if necessary, supplementation of 200IUs a day for people 2-50 years old and 400IUs for individuals above fifty is enough for good health.
A recent survey, however, found that two-thirds of the population has vitamin D levels below the amounts associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases, and 1 in 10 have deficiencies so low they are not even at the level for proper bone health. This indicates that the majority of Canadians do not have vitamin D levels needed for optimum health.
One explanation for this widespread deficiency is the low recommendations provided by Health Canada. Recent research has shown that these levels should be much higher in order to get the many preventative health benefits vitamin D has to offer. This is particularly the case during the winter months when we have very little sun to skin exposure. More importantly, because these guidelines are generalized, individual variations and requirements are not taken into account. Colour of skin, time spent outside each day, dietary choices and proper absorption are all factors that influence individual vitamin D levels and need to be considered when making these recommendations.
Working with a nutritionist can help you with a plan that is tailored to you and your individual needs this winter. An adequate amount of vitamin D is essential for a strong immune system and for optimum health and disease prevention.
* OHIP will continue to cover the cost of vitamin D testing for people with the following conditions: Osteoporosis/Osteopenia, Rickets, Malabsorption Syndromes, Renal Disease and patients on medications that affect vitamin metabolism.