Most Americans are not consuming enough vitamin D. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found some groups of Americans were deficient in vitamin D—a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for human health. Vitamin D helps sustain bone health, but it may also prevent chronic disease (e.g., heart disease, diabetes) and cancer. It is made by the body when skin is exposed to sunlight and is found naturally in very few foods. Therefore, fortified foods are the primary way we can get enough vitamin D through the diet. It is recommended that people up to the age of 70 years consume 600 International Units (IU) and those over the age of 70 consume 800 IU of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D has been used in milk and soy beverages for some time. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an increase to the amount of vitamin D that may be added as an optional ingredient to milk; to plant-based milk alternatives like rice, almond, and coconut beverages; and to plant-based yogurt alternatives. This new allowance by the FDA for increased amounts of vitamin D for milk and milk alternatives will be another valuable source of this important nutrient that is not always easy to obtain.