What’s So Important About Vitamin D?
Patricia Zifferblatt | November 1, 2005

Recently we’ve all been hearing lots about the importance of vitamin D, a.k.a. the Sunshine Vitamin. So just what is the skinny on Vitamin D?

Here are some vitamin D basics:
  1. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that’s also a hormone! Your body manufactures vitamin D all by itself when your skin is exposed to sunshine--as little as 15 minutes a day. Many people assure good vitamin D absorption by taking a supplement or consuming foods such as dairy and seafood that naturally contain vitamin D.

  2. The suggested amounts of vitamin D intake every day (given in International Units) are:

    People under 50 years of age: 200 IU
    People 50-70 years of age: 400 IU
    People over 70 years of age: 600 IU

  3. Vitamin D is very important for the absorption of calcium, helping to maintain strong bones, muscles, and teeth.

  4. Vitamin D appears to help regulate cell growth and improve the body’s immune system.

  5. Some researchers believe that a shortage of vitamin D may play a role in multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

  6. Many people over the age of 60 years are deficient in vitamin D, as well as those with dark skin, or those who are house bound.

  7. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it’s a good idea to take in or eat a little fat with your vitamin D. Note that fish or dairy, the best food sources, already contain fat in their natural state. If you’re supplementing with fish oil or flaxseed oil for additional omega-3 fatty acids--and we recommend that everyone get more omega-3s--that will do the trick. Being fat soluble also means it can be stored in your body fat, so if you don’t get out in the sun for a day or two, you’ll be just fine.
Some foods that are high in Vitamin D are:

Cooked salmon
Canned sardines
Canned tuna
Soy milk
Cow’s milk
Fortified breakfast cereal

An excellent way to insure that your body is getting sufficient vitamin D for good health is to take a nutritional supplement every day and exercise outdoors whenever possible. As the days get shorter and shorter here in the northern hemisphere, it gets harder to get outside even for 15 minutes, but it’s worth making the effort.
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