Vitamin D Need and Source

Sunshine with Vitamin D in center
Photo – Canva.com

Vitamin D is vital to proper bodily functions.  While sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D, spending time outdoors in the sunlight may be limited or not possible.  In cases of limited sunlight, alternative ways to get the daily intake of Vitamin D may be necessary.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin essential for bone health and helping the body absorb and use calcium to build and keep bones and teeth strong reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. It also been shown to reduce cancer cell growth and inflammation, build the immune system, and regulate cell growth.

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, skin color, age, limited fat absorption, age, and other factors.

Some foods, fortified foods, and supplements are alternative sources of Vitamin D.  Foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, milk, cheese, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, sardines, beef liver and UV-exposed mushrooms. Vitamin D fortified products include some cereals, bread, orange juice, yogurt, dairy and plant-based milk.  The National Institute of Health says that “obtaining sufficient Vitamin D from natural (nonfortified) food sources alone is difficult. For many people, consuming Vitamin D-fortified foods and exposing themselves to some sunlight are essential for maintaining a healthy vitamin D status.”

When getting a daily dose of Vitamin D from foods and/or sunlight is a problem, dietary supplements may be needed to meet Vitamin D requirements.  The National Institute of Health table below shows the current RDA for Vitamin D.  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.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0-12 months* 10 mcg
(400 IU)
10 mcg
(400 IU)
1–13 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
14–18 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
19–50 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
51–70 years 15 mcg
(600 IU)
15 mcg
(600 IU)
>70 years 20 mcg
(800 IU)
20 mcg
(800 IU)

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

More Posts

AnswerLine

Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Email: answer@iastate.edu
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)

Archives

Categories