All About Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

February 8, 2010

Vitamin D has long been known as the “sunshine vitamin,” but some people have recently been calling it the “nutrient of the year” because it has been the topic of heated discussion in the medical field. Why is it such a hot topic? Because recent research has shown that higher levels of vitamin D may help decrease the risk of certain cancers, such as colon and breast cancer. These same researchers feel that the required levels of vitamin D are too low and people need more than what they have been told.

In case you’re not familiar, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and store calcium in your bones. It also plays a role in immune function and reducing inflammation. Without vitamin D, you are at increased risk of osteoporosis and possibly cardiovascular disease.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D for children through adults younger than 70 is 600 IU (International Units) and for adults over 70 the RDA is 800 IU. It can be challenging to get all the vitamin D you need on a daily basis because the best source of vitamin D is what the body makes naturally from sunlight exposure (hence the name “the sunshine vitamin”), which is limited during the winter months in northern climates and is decreased because of the use of sunscreen, which blocks out the UVB rays that help you make viatmin D.

Dietary sources of vitamin D are more limited and need to be eaten in large amounts to get the preferred amount. They include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines; mushrooms; fortified foods, such as milk, breakfast cereal, and orange juice; and a small amount from egg yolks.

Find out more about the causes of vitamin D deficiency and what to do about it tomorrow!

Updated February 2016

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