WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is fundamental for optimum health. It is a nutrient found naturally in some foods like fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks. This nutrient has many roles including maintaining strong bones, healthy muscles, robust immune system, and helping achieve restful sleep.
You would be hard-pressed looking for a more fundamental micro-nutrient for overall good health.
Vitamin D helps create strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium, a key bone component. In other words, both vitamin D and calcium intake need to be optimized to help achieve skeletal health.
People who do not get enough vitamin D risk developing thin, brittle bones.
HOW MUCH VITAMIN D DO I NEED?
According to the National Library of Medicine, the amount of vitamin D you need depends on several factors, including your age.
- For adults 19 to 70 years, the recommended intake is 600 IU (international units)
- Adults over 70 are recommended to increase their vitamin D intake to 800 IU.
Another factor playing a role is your DNA. Several recent studies have linked people’s unique DNA to the levels of vitamin D in their blood.
WHAT FOODS PROVIDE VITAMIN D?
Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in American diets.
- Almost all the U.S. milk supply is fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per quart. But foods made from milk, like cheese and ice cream, are usually not fortified.
- Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and soy beverages; check the labels.
However, a few other foods are naturally rich in vitamin D.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the best sources.
- Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts.
- Mushrooms provide some vitamin D.
WHAT ABOUT VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS?
Vitamin D supplements can be found providing two types of vitamin D, namely D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both increase vitamin D in the blood. However, some recent studies dispute the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation.
DOES SUN EXPOSURE HELP ME GET VITAMIN D?
Yes, absolutely. The body can produce some vitamin D after healthy exposure to sunlight.
However, despite the importance of the sun to vitamin D synthesis, it is recommended to not over expose your skin to the sun. Excessive exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of some forms of skin cancer. For most people, it is recommended to wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 8 or more when exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes.
CAN I GET TOO MUCH VITAMIN D?
Yes. According to the National Library of Medicine, signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss.
By raising blood levels of calcium, too much vitamin D can cause confusion, disorientation, and problems with heart rhythm. Excess vitamin D can also damage the kidneys.
The upper limits for vitamin D are:
- 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for infants
- 2,500 to 3,000 IU/day for children 1-8 years
- 4,000 IU/day for children 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and lactating teens and women.
Vitamin D toxicity almost always occurs from overuse of supplements.
Excessive sun exposure does not cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of the vitamin it produces.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT VITAMIN D?
- For general information on vitamin D:
- For more information on food sources of vitamin D:
- For more advice on buying dietary supplements:
- Office of Dietary Supplements Frequently Asked Questions: Which brand(s) of dietary supplements should I purchase?
- For information about building a healthy diet:
MyVytalics provides this information for educational purposes only and should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.