Vitamin D – The (Not So Boring) Facts

I know, I know.. you hear "daily recommended value" and you glaze over. With all of the things that we're supposed to ingest on a daily basis, it can be easier to ignore the recommendations than it is to do the right thing.

That's why I asked experts to share not only how much to get – but to explain to us why we need it, and how to get it. I think you'll find the tips interesting:

Vitamin D – the "Sunshine Vitamin"

How much do you need? The recommendation is to get 200 International Units (IU) for ages birth through 50, 400 IU for adults over age 50 and 600 IU for adults over age 70.

After sunlight or ultraviolet light hits your skin even on a cloudy day, your body can make vitamin D. It only takes ten to 15 minutes of exposure without sunscreen on your hands, arms, face. However, people with darker skin might need more sun exposure and people with lighter skin might need less exposure.

For adequate absorption of vitamin D in the diet, at least 10% of calories must come from fat, because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Remember to protect your skin with sunscreen after 10-15 minutes of sun exposure.

Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are naturally abundant sources of Vitamin D; e.g. 3 oz Salmon with bones, canned will provide 190-535 IU of Vitamin D Fortified milk (An 8 oz cup will provide 100 IU of Vitamin D), yogurt, cheese, juices, soy beverages, breakfast cereals, breads, cereal bars and eggs from hens fed with Vitamin D fortified feed are natural sources of Vitamin D.

If you do choose to take a supplement do inform your physician and note that excessive amounts of any fat-soluble vitamins over a long period can be harmful.

Vandana R. Sheth, RD, CDE Registered Dietitian and Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Vitamin D: Food Alone Won't Do It

Up until 2010, it was possible, albeit not always practical, to meet vitamin D recommendations through food alone. One eight ounce serving of milk contains 100 IU. Women ages 19-50 were advised to consume 200 IU per day, ages 51-70, 400 IU and over 70, 600 IU.

In November 2010, the Institute of Medicine upwardly revised the Recommended Dietary Allowance to 600 IU/day for ages 31-70 and 800 IU/day for over 70. More foods are being fortified with vitamin D, but hitting these goals by food alone is difficult. So take either a multi-vitamin or a vitamin D supplement containing 400 to 1,000 IU. There is good evidence that adequate vitamin D reduces the risk of bone fractures and the risk of falling down.

— David A. Mark, Ph.D., dmark consulting LLC,

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