Updated: Jan 22
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health. Although there have been numerous reports of various health conditions associated with low vitamin D levels, the findings of the Institute of Medicine (known as the National Academy of Medicine) show that there is no conclusive evidence showing that increasing vitamin D levels are associated with other health benefits. Read more...
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What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health. Although there have been numerous reports of various health conditions associated with low vitamin D levels, the findings of the Institute of Medicine (known as the National Academy of Medicine) show that there is no conclusive evidence showing that increasing vitamin D levels are associated with other health benefits. There are studies finding links between low vitamin D levels to colon cancer, heart disease, and other cancers such as breast cancer although a causative mechanism is not clear.
How do we obtain Vitamin D?
There are many ways for us to obtain vitamin D. The most common sources for supplying our bodies with the vitamin D that it needs are:
Which foods are rich in vitamin D?
Ideally, a diet rich in vitamin D is the best place to start.
Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring, and sardines
Shrimp and oysters
These can be incorporated into many recipes to increase your vitamin D consumption.
Many foods are also fortified with vitamin D. These include
What is the recommended vitamin D intake?
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D based on a person receiving minimal to no sun exposure is:
400 International Units for infants/children 0-1 years
600 IU for children, teenagers, and adults 1-70 years
800 IU for adults 71+ years
Of course, the sun is also an important source of vitamin D in a person who does not have a diet rich in these foods or that takes supplements. The key to remember with sun exposure, however, is that you do not need a sunburn to get a healthy amount of vitamin D.
Who needs vitamin D supplements?
Vitamin D supplementation is important for those at the highest risk for deficiency. This would include:
Post menopausal women
Long term steroids
How is it best to choose a vitamin D supplement?
The best way to choose a supplement is to talk to your doctor. There are a number of different options available. Look at your daily requirements above and verify your supplement offers the minimum amount needed.
Is it possible to take too much vitamin D?
Consuming excess vitamin D does have its consequences. This can lead to excess calcium in the bloodstream referred to as hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia can manifest as:
High blood pressure
How much sun should I get if I choose to get vitamin D from the sun?
The sun is at its peak when you look down and see that your shadow is shorter than you. During these hours, 3 days a week obtaining about 15-20 minutes of sun exposure for people that tend to burn easily, and slightly longer for those that tend to tan easier than they burn.
The key is always everything in moderation. What is great about sun-protective adaptive clothing is that it allows us to cover up quickly when we know we are risking getting too much sun which could lead to a risky sunburn!