By Paige Prestigiacomo, RD, LD
As a Registered Dietitian, I am always an advocate for food first when it comes to obtaining nutrients. However, that gets more difficult when living in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As the days get shorter, and we start preparing for the cold winter, it is important to be conscious of Vitamin D in your diet.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has multiple functions within the body. It aids in everything from bone health, calcium absorption and strengthening the immune system, which is extremely important now more than ever. This article will walk through the importance, sources and supplementation of Vitamin D.
Why is Vitamin D Important?
Per an article written by Mercy Medical Center, approximately 42% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. In certain populations, this percentage could be even higher. Examples may include those living in colder climates getting less sun exposure, those with darker skin due to the body’s increased melanin and reduced ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight and people over the age of 65 years old. Certain conditions such as celiac disease, gastric bypass, kidney or liver disease can also impact the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.
Vitamin D’s main role is to protect and strengthen bones. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus and supporting muscles around your bones to prevent falls. Adults who are vitamin D deficient are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
Other warning signs of having a deficiency include
- Mood swings
- Skin conditions
- Low immunity
Sources of Vitamin D
There are three ways the body can obtain Vitamin D:
Getting Vitamin D through Food
As I mentioned earlier, I am always an advocate for food first when it comes to vitamins; however, there are very few food sources that naturally contain Vitamin D. Sources include salmon, sardines, egg yolks or mushrooms. Other foods have been fortified to add in this vitamin, including milk, orange juice, cereals or yogurt.
Getting Vitamin D through Sunlight
The most common way to get Vitamin D is from the sun, which is why it’s nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin.”
The body converts sunlight to vitamin D after being exposed to unprotected skin, meaning without sunscreen. It is important to be mindful of sun exposure, and the damage it can cause to unprotected skin, which is why it is not recommended to obtain vitamin D from sunlight alone.
Getting Vitamin D through Supplements
The final way to ensure the body is getting enough vitamin D is through supplementation. People of different ages require different amounts of Vitamin D daily.
- For adults, the recommended dietary allowance is 600-1,000 IU (international units) and for adults over the age of 70 years, 800-1,000 IU. It is completely safe to take an age-appropriate Vitamin D supplement in addition to consuming Vitamin D-rich foods.
- The daily tolerable upper limit is 4,000 IU for ages 9 years old and above, which makes it almost impossible to get too much Vitamin D from foods or sunlight.
- Too much Vitamin D can result in elevated levels of calcium in your blood, which may be harmful over time. This Vitamin D toxicity is usually caused by taking excessive amounts of supplements, so do not take more than the recommended daily dose.
Included in our supplement bundle at Livea is our multivitamin. It contains 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per serving, a safe amount for daily consumption even when combined with sunlight and Vitamin D-rich foods. Because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it does not dissolve in water and is transported and stored in the body alongside fats.
It is best to consume supplements with food to aid in absorption. Taking Vitamin D alongside a healthy fat will help to increase its absorption by your body. It is always important to consult with your doctor before starting a new supplement as it may interact with certain medications. Ask your Livea consultant if you are curious about how to boost the vitamin D in your diet!
- Eat Your Vitamins, by: Mashca Davis, MPH, RDN