The 411 on Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body must get from other sources. It is naturally found in a few foods; some products may be fortified to contain vitamin D or there are also supplements. According to the National Institutes of Health, some foods that have vitamin D are:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel
  • Beef liver
  • Fortified milk
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified yogurts
  • Egg yolks

The majority of our vitamin D actually comes from when our bodies convert the UV-B light from the sun into vitamin D. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is recommended that we get at least 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between the times of 10 am and 3 pm at least twice a week. Although we need sun exposure to make vitamin D, it is also important to be safe while outside and not be over exposed to the UV light because of the dangers it can do to your skin and health such as skin cancer.

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and helps maintain the calcium and phosphate concentrations in our bodies. It is also necessary for bone growth and remodeling. Other roles that vitamin D plays in the body are: cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function as well as decreasing inflammation. If you do not consume enough vitamin D, it can lead to some very serious health concerns. A deficiency of vitamin D can cause brittle and thin bones which can increase the risk of fractures and in older adults it can lead to osteoporosis. In children with a deficiency in vitamin D, it can cause rickets which is a very serious condition where there are weak, soft bones, stunted growth and even skeletal deformities.

Vitamin D is a very important nutrient that we need to make sure we are consuming adequate amounts of to protect us from these dangerous conditions as well as help prevent the formation of these diseases in the future.