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Vitamin D

Health Information

/ by UK HealthCare

Vitamin D is like an excellent passer on a basketball team – it assists the things around it (like your muscles and cells) in their pursuit of success.

First, it helps your body absorb calcium, which is crucial for healthy bones and teeth. It also boosts the immune system to help keep you healthy. In fact, growing evidence suggests that getting enough vitamin D can help reduce your risk of many serious ailments, including:

  • Type 1 diabetes.
  • Several types of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, esophageal and lymphatic.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Heart attack.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Unfortunately, according to the National Institutes of Health, almost half of all people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, regardless of age, ethnicity or where they live. It’s a serious enough problem that experts consider it a pandemic and say it leads to increased mortality rates worldwide.

How much vitamin D do I need?

The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, of vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) per day for younger adults and 800 IU for adults over age 70. But experts continue to debate how much vitamin D people need, and some studies indicate the current RDA may be too low.

It is possible, however, to overdose on vitamin D, so talk to your doctor before taking more than the recommended dose for your age.

How do I get vitamin D?

Vitamin D is the only vitamin your body can make for itself, but it needs exposure to sunlight to do it.

To get your vitamin D from the sun, you’ll need to expose your skin – without sunscreen – to direct sunlight for at least 5- 10 minutes every day. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you will produce. Just be careful never to get so much sun that your skin begins to turn pink and especially that it does not burn.

Small amounts of vitamin D can be obtained from food, although no foods provide very much. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as fish liver oil, contain the most, and there are small amounts in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. Vitamin D is also added to some products, including milk and breakfast cereals.

To make sure your body is getting enough vitamin D, you will likely need to take a supplement. Your doctor can test the vitamin D level in your blood and talk to you about how much you should take.