Vitamin D

What is the importance of Vitamin D? Vitamin D is made in the skin in the presence of UV rays. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. This will promote bone health and prevent rickets or osteomalacia. It also helps prevent many diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Factors that influence vitamin D deficiency?

  • People are spending more time indoors watching tv or spending time on phones, computers or tablets.
  • People use liberal amounts of sunscreen to reduce skin damage, but this also minimizes vitamin d production in the skin.
  • Less consumption of vitamin D fortified milk. I’m guilty of this!
  • Darker skinned individuals don’t absorb sunlight as easily and are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.

How to get adequate vitamin D?

You may have heard that vitamin D is the “sunshine” vitamin. This is because our skin can make it when we are out in the sun. About 5 – 30 minutes out in the sun, without sunscreen, at least twice a week is sufficient to meet our needs. The sun just needs to touch our face, hands and arms. After the 5-30 minutes, sunscreen should be used to minimize skin damage.

Foods that contain vitamin D:

FoodServingVitamin D (IU)
Salmon, cooked3.5 ounces360
Sardines, canned1.75 ounces250
Tuna, canned3 ounces200
Milk1 cup100
Vitamin D fortified Orange juice1 cup100
Soy beverage1 cup100
Margarine, fortified1 tablespoon60
Breakfast cereal, fortified1 serving40
Egg1 whole20
  • Vitamin D fortified milk – should aim for 3 cups/day
  • Vitamin D fortified yogurts, cheese and orange juice
  • Some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D
  • Tuna should be consumed on a regular basis – sandwiches, casseroles, salads
  • Grilled or baked salmon is vitamin D-rich – aim for once a week

How much vitamin D do you need?

  • Children and adults up to 70 years old – 600 IU
  • Adults older than 70 years old – 800 IU

I, along with many other Americans, suffer from vitamin D deficiency. I don’t get a lot of sunshine during the day. I have an office with no windows, so that’s not helping me with getting my vitamin D. I don’t get a lot of time outside when I get home after a long day at work. It’s been pretty dreary and rainy this time of year, so I don’t spend a lot of time outside regardless. I’ve been taking a daily vitamin D supplement recommended by my primary physician. I try to eat a lot of the foods above. I know the importance of vitamin D in my life and want to let you know that if you have low levels of vitamin D, you’re not alone. I’m hoping by sharing this with you, that you will see that even dietitians struggle.

The struggle is real…