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October 2023

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient essential for maintaining strong bones.  It aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helps regulate blood calcium, and protects against the loss of bone mass. Fondly known as the “sunshine” vitamin, D is good for more than just strong bones.  The immune system needs vitamin D to ward off viruses. It also plays a role in fighting inflammation and helping muscles function.

Studies suggest added health benefits linked to D include heart health, reduced risk of colon cancer and type II diabetes. With all these health benefits, are you getting enough vitamin D? 

Daily D Goal – The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily if under age 70, and 800 IU for those 70+. Some leading experts believe it should be higher due to indoor lifestyles, the use of sunscreens and few food sources for Vit D.

If the vitamin D level in your blood is low, requirements will be more. Your physician may prescribe a high dose of D for a short period of time.  Additional vitamin D may not benefit your bones if you are not D-deficient. However, there may be other health benefits that D may provide.

Know Your D Status - Are You Low?
Almost one-third of the US population is at risk with inadequate D intake or deficiency. Have your D level checked.  Risk factors contributing to D-deficiency:

  • Little effective sun exposure
  • Excess body fat
  • Very dark skin
  • Gastrointestinal disorder or gastric bypass surgery
  • Medications taken on a regular basis including: antacids, steroids, calcium channel blockers and mineral oil. Check with your pharmacist.

Get Your Vitamin D – There are three ways to get vitamin D: diet, the sun or from supplements.

DIET: Few foods naturally have vitamin D, so try to make the most of them. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are among the best sources. Sardines, tuna and D-fortified products (mainly dairy) along with ‘vitamin D-rich’ mushrooms are relatively good sources. Egg yolks also contain some D. The Nutrition Facts label on food products includes the vitamin D content.

SUN: We rely on sunlight for most of our vitamin D. Sun on unprotected skin enables the body to make vitamin D. Enjoy safe sun exposure (15 minutes before 10AM or after 2PM) daily.

SUPPLEMENTS: Getting adequate vitamin D from food and sun exposure may be difficult. If the D levels in your blood are low or you are at risk, you may need to supplement. Supplemental D is found in two forms, D2 & D3. The Institutes of Health regard both forms to be equal when treating deficiencies, although high doses of D3 may increase the risk of toxicity.

Vitamin D toxicity can occur from excessive supplementation, increasing the risk of kidney stones, as well as kidney, heart and blood vessel damage. If you choose to take more than 800 IU/day, unless recommended by your physician, check with your health care provider.


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