Amidst the hustle and bustle of modern life, ensuring you are getting the right amount of essential nutrients in your body every day is not easy.
One nutrient most people often overlook is vitamin D.
Funnily, this also happens to be one of the easiest vitamins to obtain as vitamin D can be gotten naturally from the sun. However, don’t assume just because you are soaking in the rays a couple of minutes each day in summer is enough for you.
Matter of fact, as many as 42% of Americans are not getting enough vitamin D. A deficiency of this vitamin usually results in a poor immune system, weak bones, and a heightened risk for diseases.
The big question is, how much vitamin D do you really need?
Well, it actually depends.
If you are an adult under the age of 70, the recommended intake per day is 600 IU (international units – the unit of measurement for vitamin D).
If you are over 70, the daily recommended intake is 800 IU.
If that sounds too rigid, here are a few simple things you can do to make sure you are getting enough each day.
Sun rays spur the body to manufacture vitamin D.
However, due to the small matter of skin cancer risk, we still do not have an official recommendation to drink up the sun’s rays. A little exposure every day (about 20-25 minutes) without sunscreen should do the trick, though.
But there are a few caveats to this party rule.
If you live in higher altitudes, the sun is less likely to provide your recommended daily dose. The same goes for the winter season, ditto older and dark-skinned individuals (the process is less efficient as we grow older and skin pigment blocks light).
And so you know, light through a window will not work.
Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin D
As with every other nutrient, consuming foods rich in vitamin D is one of the most effective ways to obtain this nutrient.
Foods rich in vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish – Canned tuna and sardine, fresh mackerel, salmon, herring, trout, shrimp and eel (fatty fish comes with the bonus of omega-3 fatty acids!).
- Beef and beef liver – Contains good amounts of vitamin D and other nutrients like vitamin A, iron and protein, although beef and beef liver are both high in cholesterol.
- Fortified milk – Check for milk fortified with vitamin D.
- Fortified orange juice – Fortified orange juice (an 8-ounce glass has approx. 100 IUs, although this varies from one brand to the next).
- Fortified cereal – Good source of vitamin D which can be paired with either fortified milk or fortified orange juice.
- Cod liver oil – One tablespoon of cod liver oil has a whopping 1300 IUs of vitamin D, more than double the recommended daily amount of 600 IUs.
- Egg yolks – One yolk will give you about 40 IUs, but since eggs are high in cholesterol, it is advisable to consume them in moderation.
If it is not the season to enjoy good sunlight or your diet is low in vitamin D, try supplementing.
Opt for supplements indicated vitamin D3 – this is the type of vitamin produced naturally by your skin and is the one your body finds easiest to absorb.
You can have a vitamin D test to determine if you have a deficiency or not. If you have other risk factors such as osteoporosis (a bone disease) this test should be carried out once.
Lastly, don’t forget that as much as low vitamin D levels are bad, so are high levels.
Too much vitamin D can be categorized as anything above 4,000 IUs per day, which could be damaging to your kidneys.
But it’s not like you really need that much, do you?
Stephanie Wheeler, 42% Percent of Americans Are Vitamin D Deficient. Are You Among Them? (www.cantonmercy.org)