We have recently been getting some calls about ways to boost Vitamin D in diets. It is especially hard during the Winter months to incorporate enough vitamin D in our diets without the help of the sun.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin essential for bone health and helping the body absorb and use calcium in bones and teeth. It also helps build the immune system and regulate cell growth. It is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement.
Foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, milk, cheese, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, sardines and beef liver. Vitamin D fortified products include some cereals, bread, orange juice, yogurt and soy milk.
Vitamin D is often considered the “sunshine” vitamin. This is because a vitamin D precursor is produced in the skin upon exposure to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun. This precursor travels through the bloodstream to the liver and kidneys where it is turned into the active form of Vitamin D. Typically 5 to 15 minutes three times a week with exposure to the sun on bare skin is more than enough to get the benefits. Of course that effectiveness is affected by several things: geographic location, sunscreen use, and age being at the top of the list.
If you are not getting your daily dose of Vitamin D from foods and/or sunlight, you might want to consider taking a supplement. The current RDA for Vitamin D is 400 IU for infants up to 1 year of age; 600 IU for ages 1 to 70; and 800 IU for ages 71 and above. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it is best to take the supplement with food. Always consult with your medical professional before starting a Vitamin D or any supplement.