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Vitamin D Essential for Your Good Health

Shannon Wright MS, RD

Recently, vitamin D has been growing in popularity. Discovered in the early 1900’s, it’s been commonly understood to be one of the essential vitamins important for good health. Our skin actually makes vitamin D by absorbing the ultraviolet B in sunlight. However, due to our use of sunscreen and time spent indoors, our bodies may not be producing the adequate amounts of Vitamin D necessary for our health. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) confirm that many Americans are suffering from insufficient levels of vitamin D. Plus, a growing body of evidence shows that low levels of vitamin D is affecting individuals of all ages, from children to the elderly. In addition to sunshine, foods and nutritional supplements are the other two sources of vitamin D.

Why is Vitamin D important?

• Builds and maintains strong bones by enhancing calcium absorption
• Regulates mineral concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in the body
• Helps support a healthy immune system
• Helps support muscle strength

What about food as a Vitamin D source?

Foods provide minimal amounts of vitamin D, which partially explains why low vitamin D levels are so prevalent. While certain foods contain vitamin D, excessive amounts of such sources are required in order to meet our daily vitamin D needs. For example, to obtain 1000 IU of vitamin D, it may take 10- 20 glasses of milk or 10 ounces of salmon per day to fulfill the requirement. For many people, a daily vitamin D supplement may be necessary to maintain vitamin D levels in the body.

Food Source

Amount Per Serving

               Cod liver oil

               1,360 IU per tablespoon

               Cooked salmon

               360 IU per 3.5 ounces

               Fortified milk

               98 IU per cup

               Fortified cereal

               40 IU per ¾-1 cup


               20 IU per 1 whole egg

Do you know the two types of Vitamin D?

• Vitamin D is available in two forms: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.
• Vitamin D3, which naturally occurs in foods of animal origin, is the preferred form because it is more readily used by your body to carry out its important roles
• Vitamin D3 is the form most commonly found in nutritional supplements.

How much Vitamin D is right for me?

• For most adults, 600 IU is the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
• 1000-2000 IU per day of vitamin D3 is a commonly recommended dose by health care professionals.
• 5000 IU or more per day is often recommended by health care professionals if you have been identified as having low levels of vitamin D.

Always let your personal health care professional know about all of your vitamin choices. They have the best perspective on your vitamin needs in relation to your overall health.

Are you at risk for Vitamin D deficiency?

• You may be at risk if you:
• experience less than 10-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week
• wear sunscreen on a regular basis
• have skin that is dark in color
• are 65 years of age and older
• are restricted to indoor activity or live in a nursing home
• live in a region with a long winter season
• live in a region with air pollution
• are overweight or obese

Your doctor can arrange for a simple blood test to determine your vitamin D status. Talk to your doctor about whether this blood test would be right for you.

Be proactive with your health and consider taking a vitamin D supplement as part of a healthy supplement regimen.