After a long time of being ignored under the shadow of the more well-known Vitamins C and E, the importance of Vitamin D is now slowly emerging. Although the role of Vitamin D in promoting the health of bones is commonly known, there are benefits that are only recently being brought to light.
It helps in the absorption of Calcium, which means that low Vitamin D levels, especially later in life can lead to Osteoporosis or Osteomalacia (better known as bone softening). There is increasing evidence that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to muscle and bone pain.
So how does one get enough Vitamin D?
Research has shown that to achieve sufficient blood level of Vitamin D, the optimal dose is 1,000 IU per day. The vitamin is well absorbed from fortified milk and from vitamin pills, both alone and in combination with other foods.
Vitamin D is oil soluble, which means you need to eat fat to absorb it. Natural foods high in vitamin D include fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese, and egg yolks. Vitamin D is also naturally made by your body when you expose your skin to the sun, and is called the sun-shine vitamin. In addition, vitamin D is widely added to many foods such as milk and orange juice, and can also simply be consumed as a supplement .Below is a list of high vitamin D foods
- Cod Liver Oil
- Oily Fish
- Fortified Cereals (Whole Grain Total)
- Dairy Products
- Dairy Alternatives (Plain Soy Yogurt)
Can you have too much vitamin D?
If you are taking Vitamin D pills or supplements, it is advisable not to take more than 25 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D a day. Taking more than this amount could be harmful, according to the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals. The amount of vitamin D contained in supplements is usually expressed in international units (IU), where 40 IU equals 1µg of vitamin D.
Here comes the sun!
The most common source is sunlight directly on the skin. Doctors and researchers suggest that 20-25 minutes of sunlight in a day is healthy but this time varies quite a bit from person to person. Absorption is dependent on the area of skin exposed, the skin type (i.e. amount of melanin and how prone it is to sunburn), the time of year and time of day etc.
CAUTION : However, remember to be aware and careful. The longer you stay in the sun without sun protection, the greater your risk of skin cancer. Cover up or apply sunscreen to protect your skin to avoid turning red or getting sunburn. Stay covered up for most of the time you spend outside and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above.