How to Get Enough Vitamin D

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If you're having a hard time figuring out how to up your intake of vitamin D, you're not alone. Most people don't meet their daily vitamin D needs, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Whether through food, sun exposure or supplements, getting enough vitamin D is essential for good health. Consult your doctor if you are concerned with your vitamin D status.

Why You Need D

  • Vitamin D is essential for bone health. It helps the body absorb calcium and assists in the formation and maintenance of bones. Without adequate vitamin D, bones become brittle and weak, reports the ODS.

    But vitamin D does more than just support bone health. The fat-soluble vitamin is also necessary for cell growth, a healthy immune system and reducing inflammation.

    Adults need 600 international units to 800 international units of vitamin D a day, with adults over the age of 70 needing the higher amounts.

Foods Rich in D

  • People may have a difficult time meeting their daily vitamin D needs because it's found in very few foods. Fortified food, such as milk, yogurt and cereal, are the primary source of vitamin D in the diet, according to ODS.

    However, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are some of the best natural sources of vitamin. Egg yolks also contain a small amount of vitamin D, as well as certain types of mushrooms, such as maitake and portabello mushrooms, if exposed to ultraviolet light while growing.

The Sunshine Vitamin

  • Regular exposure to sunshine may also help you meet some of your daily vitamin D needs. Your body can make its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light. The recommendation is 5 minutes to 30 minutes of sun exposure two days a week anytime between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on either your hands, face, arms, legs or back without sunscreen to help your body produce enough vitamin D.

    However, in addition to sunscreen, cloud coverage, smog and time of the year can affect vitamin D production. And, because of concerns with skin cancer, it's also important that you limit sun exposure to reduce risk.

Adding a Supplement

  • If you're concerned that you're not getting enough vitamin D in your diet or from the sun, you may consider supplementation. Your doctor can help you determine an appropriate amount. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means your body stores what it doesn't use, and toxicities can occur. Symptoms of toxicity include thirst, poor appetite, weight loss, bone pain, nausea or vomiting.

    Vitamin D supplements may also interact with medications, such as steroids and cholesterol-lowering medication.

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