The Return of Vitamin D

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

For those of you who read Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore‘s blogs have probably heard a ton about vitamin D. I am sure I have talked about it as well, though I am too lazy this morning to search where. Anyway, vitamin D is an incredibly important fat-soluble substance, really more similar to hormones than vitamins, because it is that awesome.

Unfortunately vitamin D is not present in large amounts in a lot of foods, our best source is some beautiful sunshine. Too bad people are so sun-phobic these days that they slather on some SPF 70 just to walk to their car. There has been some recent research showing that roughly 77% of the population may be deficient in vitamin D status. Even if people aren’t deficient, they likely are not in the optimal range, the RDA of 400 IU just does not cut it. That number is enough to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, not encourage optimal health. There is a vast difference between brimming health, and just being not sick.

Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body, including: the maintenance of organs, regulating calcium, bone growth and remodeling, anti-tumor and other immune boosting properties, etc. Now for you long time readers, you know that I highly dislike the MSN health and fitness page. I have ranted on that here and here before. On very rare occasions though, they really come through with some quality stuff. I recently came across an article about vitamin D and sunshine, and I loved it, it was one of their best health pieces, right HERE.

This article actually highlights some of the benefits of getting your vitamin D from just a daily dose of 10-15 minutes of sun exposure. I am of the mind that the sun is a wonderful healing tool. There is a reason that people recover better in hospitals when their shades are open. There is also a reason that we call it a “healthy” tan. It makes the skin look better, it gives the body a glow, hell it makes you feel better. Now people do take it far overboard, and I am certainly not suggesting that you rub baby oil on yourself and bask in the sun for hours on end, but I don’t think we need to slather sun block on ourselves every time we even think of heading outdoors.

One the best natural sources of vitamin D are pastured eggs, along with fatty fish like salmon, beef liver, and cod liver oils along with fortified foods. Unfortunately most people do not eat pastured eggs, they eat conventional eggs from hens fed a corn rich diet. Unfortunately, these eggs tend to be quite poor sources of this wonderful substance. Here is an awesome chart I stole from wholehealthsource a while back to prove my point. (I am paraphrasing)

In 2007, the magazine Mother Earth News decided to test the claim of the America Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Council that all eggs are created equal, regardless of source. They sent for pastured eggs from 14 farms around the U.S., tested them for a number of nutrients, and compared them to the figures listed in the USDA Nutrient Database for conventional eggs. Here are the results per 100 grams for conventional eggs and the average of all the pastured eggs:

Vitamin A:

  • Conventional: 487 IU
  • Pastured avg: 792 IU

Vitamin D:

  • Conventional: 34 IU
  • Pastured avg: 136 – 204 IU

Vitamin E:

  • Conventional: 0.97 mg
  • Pastured avg: 3.73 mg


  • Conventional: 10 mcg
  • Pastured avg: 79 mcg

Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Conventional: 0.22 g
  • Pastured avg: 0.66 g

As you can clearly see, pastured eggs blow conventional eggs out of the water in all measures of awesomeness. They have 4-6 times the vitamin D content, and if you are like me and have 4 whole eggs every morning, that adds up quite nicely. One little caveat though, all those nutrients listed are either fats, or fat soluble nutrients, so you need to eat the yolks to actually take advantage of all the benefits an egg has to offer, so man up and eat the whole thing.

In conclusion, get your vitamin D from more sun, better food choices, and maybe supplement with 1,000-2,000 IU every day (at least in the winter here in New England), it will only benefit you.

Also, do not forget to sign up for John Berardi’s Lean Eating Contest, for you males interested click HERE, for the ladies out there, click HERE.

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Posted on May 26th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Jules Says:

    Doesn’t vitamin D also play a role in weight training and muscle building?

  2. mike Says:

    The data on vitamin D grows by the day. Cancer prevention is the big news but improving athletic performatance is another effect. Take a look at for some good summaries. The site also offers a good newsletter and recently launched a new formulation of vitamin D that it is offering free to its customers children

  3. Lisa Says:

    Love the blog and all the awesome information that you write about. Can you tell me where in Boston I can get pastured eggs? Thanks!

  4. Jack Says:


    Any thoughts on using a tanning bed 2-3 times a week in brief sessions during the Winter to help keep D levels up in the optimal range?

    I’ve also been eating more whole eggs again over the past few months given the bounty of nutrients the yolks possess. But in Christian Thibaudeau’s most recent Q and A thread on the T-Nation forums, he makes mention of using strictly egg whites at certain times when trying to maximize mauscle gain. This was disheartening to read, as I am squarely a whole egg guy these days, even if I understand the use of egg whites to limit fat intake at certain times.

    This dovetails with his focus in that thread on protein cycling, maximizing muscle protein synthesis, hyperaminoacidemia, casein hydrolysate, the use of leucine in 3-5 gram doses with certain feedings, and a few other topics.

    Perhaps if you find a few free moments at some point in the near future you can check out his Q and A thread that runs up until the end of May and present your take on a few of the issues discussed, particularly those related to para-training nutrition, meal composition and timing when seeking to maximize muscle protein synthesis, and even the egg issue.

    I realize your time is limited, but I greatly respect your contributions on nutrition, so it would be educational to hear your take on some of the information present.

  5. Jack Says:

  6. toby Lee Says:

    There is some interesting data suggesting that keeping your vitamin D level optimal will prevent colds, flu and in particular H1N1 (swine Flu).
    Here are links to two interesting articles:

    August 2009-Vitamin D3 deficiency and its role in influenza
    Sept 2009-More on Vitamin D3 and influenza

  7. hicalcium Says:

    Hey, thank you your writing style is amazing. just found your site on bing. come back later for sure :)

  8. Martin Andersen Says:

    Hi. Awsome blog, and awsome information on vitamin D. I run a blog myselft in danich about Vitamin D. It seems like the officials are not interested in a healthier population, since Vitamin D is not artificially added so fx. milk or other foodsouces. In the nothern europe more than 60 % of the elder are ind Vitamin D deficiency, and propably as a cause of that, in a higher risk of developing cancer, osteoporosis, and many other deseases.

  9. electronic cigarette sets Says:

    I love what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work
    and exposure! Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve you guys
    to my own blogroll.

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