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Posted: March 1, 2022
Summer: When picnics are plentiful and you won’t find an empty pool in sight. Alas, this sweet season isn’t always in full swing. Depending on where you live, temperatures can differ immensely, so we typically need a little help. We’ve all heard it: Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. But what exactly does it do for us? Grab your shades whether you are inside or outside and read up on the health benefits of vitamin D and why it’s so important for us.
Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins our body needs for optimal health. It’s produced in response to our skin being exposed to sunlight, but can also be found in foods and supplements, both naturally and fortified. Low levels of vitamin D can put us at greater risk for infection and depression, as well as decreased bone health. One of the major roles vitamin D plays is to help maximize the absorption and utilization of calcium, which is an important mineral for our bones and teeth.
The best way to receive vitamin D is through sun exposure. However, because of geographical location, seasonal changes, work schedules and sensitivity to sunlight, many people are not able to achieve their daily recommended dose. It’s suggested that approximately 10-30 minutes of sunlight between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at least 2 times per week to the face, arms, legs or back without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis. After 30 minutes, it’s important to apply sunscreen if planning to stay outside. #skinhealth
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin D includes: 0-12 months: 400 IU*; 1-70 years: 600 IU; and > 70 years: 800 IU. If you suspect that you are deficit, or you’re simply curious to see where your vitamin D levels are, ask your doctor for a vitamin D blood test at your next appointment. A value of > 50 nmol/L is desirable. Your doctor will prescribe an appropriate dosage for you if you are well below this value.
If you live in the Midwest and experience winter for almost half of the year, it may be beneficial to supplement with vitamin D3. A dosage of 2000 IU/day for adults and 1000 IU/day for adolescences may be helpful. *IU: International Units
Foods that contain the most vitamin D include the flesh of fatty fish such as, salmon, tuna and mackerel. Small amounts can be found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Fortified foods, including both orange juice and milk, provide the most vitamin D in the American diet. Take a look at the chart below to see how incorporating these foods in your diet can help reach your daily goal of vitamin D.
More than 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Help support your immune function, strong bones and more by adding a little extra into your diet. Check out our vitamin D options so you can add to your daily routine. Do you have more questions on vitamin D? Chat with our Vitamine dietitians here.*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.