Shining Light on Vitamin D

Recently, physicians are seeing more patients with low Vitamin D levels. This is a concern because low Vitamin D levels have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, depression, and impaired immunity. More studies are coming out showing that low Vitamin D levels negatively impact healing, bone health, and mental health, among other conditions.

What is Vitamin D?

Dr. Aaron Jeng, Hospitalist at Garfield Medical Center, says, “Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble hormones, ingested or produced by the body that plays a large role in intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. Adequate consumption of Vitamin D allows for bone health and prevention of diseases such as osteomalacia or rickets.”

Vitamin D helps calcium build strong bones, and also, according to WebMD, “Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system.”

How Do I Get Vitamin D?

With the attention given to the importance of Vitamin D, how can you make sure you’re getting enough?

Sunshine: The body produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Spending time outside in the sun will help your body produce the Vitamin D it needs.

The challenge is that this also exposes your skin to potentially damaging UV rays. Experts say to protect your eyes with sunglasses, protect your face, with its thinner skin, with sunblock, and limit your sun exposure to a few minutes at a time if you have fair skin and/or burn easily.

Fatty Fish: Certain fish like sockeye salmon, trout, eel, and tuna (fresh and canned) are sources of Vitamin D.

Fortified Foods: Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D such as,

  • Milk (dairy and non-dairy)
  • Orange juice
  • Cereals
  • Yogurt

Be sure to check the food label to check if it has Vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements: Some health experts believe that we do not get enough Vitamin D from food alone, so supplements are necessary to make sure we get our daily dose. When shopping for Vitamin D tablets, the Vitamin D council recommends taking Vitamin D3 because that is the type the body produces when exposed to sunlight.

According to Mayo Clinic, it is generally recommended that those 1-70 years of age should get 600 IU (international Units) and those 71 and older should get 800 IU.

Talk to your health care provider about how much vitamin D is appropriate for you and the most appropriate ways for you to get your daily dosage.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.