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October 2019

The Update on Vital Vitamin D

Vitamin D continues to be a critical nutrient for maintaining strong bones, it also appears to be linked to other health benefits.  Research suggests that this vital vitamin plays a role in fighting inflammation, boosting the immune system, fighting diabetes and pain management.  Ongoing studies are looking at other roles vitamin D may play in regards to cognitive decline, blood pressure and cancer, multiple sclerosis and even acting as a probiotic in the intestines.  With all of these potential health benefits it is essential that vitamin D levels are adequate.

Know Your D Status
It is important to ensure your vitamin D is adequate to maintain strong bones and overall health. Have your physician check your level.

Risk factors that may contribute to D-deficiency;

  • Little effective sun exposure
  • Excess body fat
  • Very dark skin
  • Gastrointestinal disorder or gastric bypass surgery
  • Medications taken on a regular basis such as; antacids, steroids, calcium channel blockers and mineral oil.  Check with your pharmacist.

Daily D Goal
The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily if under age 70, and 800 IU for those 70+. Some leading experts believe it should be higher due to indoor lifestyles, the use of sunscreens and few good food sources for D.

If your vitamin D levels in your blood are low, requirements will be more. Your physician may prescribe a high dose of D for a short period.  Additional vitamin D may not benefit your bones if you are not D-deficient. However, there may be other health benefits.

If you choose to take more than 800 IU/day, check with your physician, especially if you have a history of kidney stones.

Get Your Vitamin D
There are three ways to get vitamin D: your diet, the sun or from supplements.

FOOD: Few foods naturally have vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are the best sources. Sardines, tuna and D-fortified products (mainly dairy) along with ‘vitamin D-rich’ mushrooms are relatively good sources. Egg yolks also contain some D. The new Nutrition Facts label will include the vitamin D content. 

SUN: We rely on sunlight for most of our vitamin D. Sun on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D. Try ‘safe’ sun exposure (15 minutes before 10AM or after 2PM) daily.

SUPPLEMENTS: Getting adequate vitamin D from food and sun exposure may be difficult. If the D levels in your blood are low or you are at risk, you may need to supplement.

The Bottom Line
Make the most of the few good food sources.  Maintain a healthy weight. Enjoy safe sun exposure. Get D levels checked to see if you need to supplement.  Ensuring adequate vitamin D along with healthy eating and active lifestyle contribute to healthy aging.


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