Episode 154: Why You Need Vitamin D

In this re-released episode from October 2021, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are discussing everything you need to know about vitamin D. Vitamin D isn’t just needed for bone health – it is crucial for your immune health. Also, could low vitamin D be the cause of your aches, pains and low mood?

Vitamin D deficiency is still underdiagnosed, under prevented and under treated in between 60-90% of the worldwide population. In Canada 59% of population are vitamin D deficient (below 75 nmol/L). 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is best absorbed as a supplement when taken with food. 

What increases your risk of experiencing vitamin D deficiency?

  • Dark skin
  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Malabsorption
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (due to malabsorption and inflammation)
  • Sunlight overprotection and/or deprivation
  • Chronic use of prednisone and other anti-inflammatory steroid derivatives, anticonvulsant medications (due to upregulation of liver detoxification, promoting excretion of vitamin D and metabolites)

Why should you care about vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays many roles in the body! It’s not just for bone density, which can decrease as estrogen decreases in perimenopause and menopause.

Vitamin D is known as a pro-hormone synthesized in the skin and activated in the liver and kidneys. Cholesterol is its precursor.

Why do you need vitamin D in your body?

  • Reduces cellular growth
  • Improves cell differentiation
  • Regulates and controls genes
  • Reduces inflammation, risk of cancer, autoimmunity
  • Reduces muscle aches/pain, fibromyalgia
  • Improves mood (and energy)
  • Enhances bone health

“The most common manifestations of vitamin D deficiency in adults is:



Chronic Pain”

  • Alex Vasquez (vitamin D monograph available at academia.edu)

Low vitamin D status or deficiency can manifest as:

  • Bone and muscle pain 
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Infections/dysbiosis
  • Frequent falls and cognitive impairment
  • Statin intolerance and myalgia
  • Preterm birth 

How does vitamin D support your vagina?

Research shows that vitamin D supports the proliferation of vaginal epithelium in postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. After using a suppository with 1000IU vitamin D over 8 weeks, vaginal pH decreased, while vaginal dryness and pain significantly reduced.

You can think about your skin and mucous membranes (including epithelial cells and immune cells) are like bricks in a wall, with tight junction proteins acting like mortar and weather proofing or waterproofing provided by antimicrobial peptides, as well as lysozyme and secretory IgA, on surfaces. 

Mucous membranes are present in your mouth, digestive tract, genitourinary tract and respiratory tract. Strengthening your exterior barrier defenses prevents infection.

Research shows that people with low vitamin D levels are 27-55% more likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection. Higher doses of vitamin D are more protective, improves lung function and decreases inflammation. 

Synergistic nutrients for vitamin D include:

  • Magnesium – cofactor in the synthesis of vitamin D from both exposure to sunlight and dietary sources
  • Vitamin K2 supports getting calcium into bones and teeth

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) produced in skin and consumed in diet, preferred form for supplementation.

Food sources provide low amounts: fatty wild fish like mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, salmon, cod liver oil, egg yolk, milk, soy milk, fortified foods, beef liver, cheese

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) produced by irradiating fungi and mushrooms, less efficient precursor to biologically active 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol), also potentially less effective and more toxic. 

Some examples of research using cod liver oil as a source of vitamin D:

  • study with 10 patients with multiple sclerosis over 2 years, daily supplementation of 1000mg calcium, 600mg magnesium and 5000IU vitamin D (from 20g cod liver oil) reduced number of exacerbations with an absence of adverse effects
  • studies with cod liver oil showed significant reductions of type 1 diabetes, while a study of more than 10,000 infants (less than 1 year of age) and children with 2000IU of vitamin D daily reduced incidence of type 1 diabetes by almost 80%

How do you know if you’re getting enough vitamin D?

Get your blood tested!

Reference ranges for serum 25 (OH) vitamin D3 in adults can vary:


Deficiency: <20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L) 

Insufficiency: 20-40 ng/ml (50-100 nmol/L)

Proposed optimal: 40-65 ng/ml (100-160 nmol/L)

Excess: >80 ng/ml (200 nmol/L)

Proposed updated ranges:

Depletion: <20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L) 

Insufficiency: <32 ng/ml (80 nmol/L) 

Marginal sufficiency: 30-40 ng/ml (75-100 nmol/L)

Sufficiency: 40-50 ng/ml (100-125 nmol/L) 

Proposed optimal physiologic range: 50-90 ng/ml (125-225 nmol/L) – based on levels found in pregnant rural Africans, lifeguards in USA/Isreal, farmers in Puerto Rico

Supraphysiologic: >100 ng/ml (250 nmol/L)

Potentially toxic: >150 ng/ml (325 nmol/L)

Pharmacologic dosing: 200-300 ng/ml (500-750 nmol/L)

Also see:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – for more info, see Episode 47

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – for more info, see Episode 71

What Else is Happening?

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing monthly info session for expecting parents looking to trust their instincts and their body during labour and birth. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective begins again in 2023. You can get on the waitlist at wildcollectivetoronto.com

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa is a big fan of board games for lots of family fun, including Despicable Me Minion Game of Life, Mousetrap and Don’t Make Me Laugh. 

Dr. Toni loves her emulsified vitamin D drops plus vitamin D/K for the whole family.

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this presentation is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

Episode 80: Cannabis 101 with Jeananne Laing

In this episode, Dr. Toni is joined by registered herbalist and cannabis educator Jeananne Laing. More and more women are becoming interested in cannabis use, and yet there still is a stigma when it comes to using cannabis, especially when compared with other legal drugs.

Jeananne Laing is a registered herbalist, cannabis educator and integrative nutrition health coach. Jeananne is a founding member and past President of the Alberta Herbalists Association, as well as a past board member with the Canadian Council of Herbal Associations. Jeananne’s interest in the medicinal use of cannabis and other plants began at an early age. After being involved in the herbal industry for over 15 years, the time was right for Jeananne to focus on helping people understand and utilize cannabis as part of their health care protocol.  

In this episode, we cover:

  • The importance of the right time, place and dosage for cannabis products, like all things we consume
  • How cannabis is not just one product; it’s a category of products
  • The cannabinoid molecules found within the cannabis plant
    • CBD is psychoactive with no potential for impairment like how coffee impacts your brain, can sharpen your senses, can be calming
    • THC is psychoactive with the potential for impairment
  • The factors involved in how your body reacts to THC and CBD
    • Method of intake
    • Potency of product
    • Your individual genetics
  • The importance of experimenting with different cannabis products and timing to figure out the best product for you, since there is no one size fits all
  • The 3 main intake methods for cannabis products
    • Inhalation – breathing in cannabinoids released from plant through heat, quick acting with full effects felt within minutes, great for quick results for pain, anxiety, sleep, nausea vomiting or appetite stimulation, lasts for 2-4 hours
      • Smoking – least desirable due to negative impact of breathing in smoke
      • Dried herb vaporizing – easier on the lungs to breathe in vapor
    • Ingestion – your liver transforms cannabinoids and increases potency, lasts 4-12 hours for sustained results
      • Edible products include liquid with dropper, drinks, chocolates, gummy bears, popsicles
    • Topical – can be used on specific areas for local relief of menstrual cramps, digestive discomfort, joint and muscle pain
      • Includes creams, gel, patches
  • The regulation and testing of legal cannabis products market in Canada
    • Retail stores – provide pre-packaged products, unable to give you recommendations based on your health concerns 
      • Cannabis educators – can advise you on best products for your health concerns
    • Cannabis clinics – run by cannabis aware physicians to obtain medical authorization, often get supported by cannabis educator in addition to doctor, cannabis products ordered online and received by mail only
    • Grow your own for personal use
  • The potential for more scientific research on cannabis products
  • The safety concerns around products with THC for children and teens
    • Some children’s brains are more susceptible to damaging effects of THC when under the age of 25 
  • The use of products with CBD for children and teens to manage medical conditions like seizures, anxiety and appetite stimulation
  • Possible side effects you need to be aware of:
    • THC – Racing heart (tachycardia), sedation, confusion, short term memory issues, anxiety, increased hunger, slowed reflexes and impairment, lowered blood pressure
    • CBD – Lowered blood pressure, reduced appetite, blood sugar imbalance, wakefulness
  • The desire for the normalization of cannabis use especially for women

You can find and connect with Jeananne at http://www.jeanannelaing.com/

For more cannabis education, visit https://www.cannu.ca/ and  https://elevatedlearningacademy.com/

Today’s Mama Must Have: 

Jeananne is a big fan of using 10-25mg of CBD first thing in the morning with some fatty food to think more clearly, manage stress and reduce any aches and pains from inflammation. 

Dr. Toni loves documentaries, especially a new documentary called the Wisdom of Trauma featuring Dr. Gabor Mate online as I’m recording, go to wisdomoftrauma.com to see how you can view this fantastic film about trauma and addiction.

Dr. Toni’s next HypnoBirthing info session for expecting parents looking to decrease fear and anxiety around labour and birth is happening this summer. Join her at https://www.hypnobirthingcalgary.com/register

Dr. Lisa’s Wild Collective in Fall 2021: get on the waitlist: wildcollectivetoronto.com

Email us or connect with us on  Facebook  and  Instagram

We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Disclaimer: The information provided is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.