Information on health, nutrition and other wellness topics

Vitamin D

Vitamin D Facts

What is Vitamin D? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble Vitamin essential for growth and maintenance of good health. Also known as Calciferol, it is specifically vital for maintaining bone strength. Vitamin D works in helping form and maintain strong bones by promoting the absorption of calcium. Among its other health benefits, vitamin D helps regulate blood pressure, prevents chronic joint and muscle pain, and lowers fatigue, depression- a form of mental illness.

Sources of Vitamin D

Where does Vitamin D come from? One of the known natural sources of Vitamin D is sunlight. Sunlight can produce Vitamin D in the skin, although this is greatly variable among individuals. As we are designed to make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight, is it enough get vitamin D from sunlight then? It is reported that even in tropical places, cases of Vitamin D deficiency are common. With today’s lifestyles it’s not realistic (especially for older adults) to get enough sun to make adequate vitamin D. It takes less time to synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight for those with light skin tone compared to those that are darker skinned.

What about other natural sources of Vitamin D? Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, and fortified in others. Foods such as dairy or milk products contain this vitamin. When you do not get sufficient supply of Vitamin D from food alone, dietary supplements are easily obtained at reasonable costs. D supplements can help to replenish the amount of vitamin D, in your body if you are not getting enough during a regular day. However, consumption of supplements should be done caution as it has been reported that Vitamin D supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications.

Foods Containing Vitamin D

  • Milk
  • Margarine
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Egg yolk
  • Cheese
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Cod liver oil
  • Sardines
  • Ready-to-eat cereal
  • Liver
  • Beef

You can choose a variety of foods from these food sources. By planning your diet, you can get the recommended amount of Vitamin D. However, if you find it difficult to fill in your vitamin requirement, you can combine foods sources and vitamin supplement. How much is enough? The daily recommended dosage for adults is normally set at only 200 international units (IU) per day. For a detailed report on recommended intakes of this Vitamin, the National Institute of Health has posted this list.

Adequate Intakes for Vitamin D *

Age Children Men Women Pregnancy Lactation
0-13 years 5 mcg (200 IU)
14-18 years 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU)
19-50 years 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU) 5 mcg (200 IU)
51-70 years 10 mcg (400 IU) 10 mcg (400 IU)
71+ years 15 mcg (600 IU) 15 mcg (600 IU)

IUs = International Units
*Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.