Why do We Need it?
- It helps the body to absorb calcium which in turn plays a huge part in the bone-building process
- Provides healthy immune support so the body can properly fight off infections and prevent diseases
- Aides in supporting a healthy brain and nervous system
- It helps keep our emotions in balance
- Protects us from many types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer and prostate cancer
- Prevents hypertension, stroke, and cardiovascular disease
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
The following is based on research from the Institute of Medicine. Assuming that a person gets hardly any vitamin D from sunshine (ALL Minnesotans during the winter months!) -- and that this person gets enough amounts of calcium -- the IOM committee recommends getting the following amounts of vitamin D from diet or supplements:
- Infants age 0 to 6 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,000
- IU/dayInfants age 6 to 12 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,500 IU/day
- Age 1-3 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 2,500 IU/day
- Age 4-8 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 3,000 IU/day
- Age 9-70: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
- Age 71+ years: adequate intake, 800 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
Who is most likely to Suffer from Vitamin D Deficiency?
- People over fifty- the skin receptors that change UV-B light into Vitamin D weaken as we age. Maybe this is why all the seniors flee to the south in the winter!
- Persons of color and darker skinned white people. Melanin in the skin will protect you from harmful UV light, but ironically will also slow down your absorption of D from UV-B light. Darker skinned people actually need more sun exposure than fair-skinned people to produce Vitamin D3.
- Persons with liver, kidney or metabolic disorders, whose bodies are not able to fully process and metabolize D3.
- Persons taking pharmaceutical medications that interfere with Vitamin D metabolism.
How do I get Vitamin D?
- Natural sunlight
Surprisingly few foods contain vitamin D -- unless it's added to the food. That's because your body is built to get vitamin D through your skin (from sunlight) rather than through your mouth (by food). Unfortunately sunlight isn't always available to us. Here are some super foods that do have Vitamin D:
- Salmon (especially wild-caught)
- Mackerel (especially wild-caught; eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury)
- Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D
Other food sources of vitamin D include:
- Cod liver oil (warning: cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A; too much may be bad for you)
- Tuna canned in water
- Sardines canned in oil
- Milk or yogurt -- regardless of whether it's whole, nonfat, or reduced fat -- fortified with vitamin D
- Beef or calf liver
- Egg yolks
Written By: Annie Stanz