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Vitamin D: More for me!

Popular foods that contain natural and/or added Vitamin D

You exercise and you eat a healthy diet so, you’re probably getting all the nutrients you need, right?  Wrong!  The hot topic of the nutrition world these days is Vitamin D so here are a few important and introductory points:

  • Major role in the body: it helps bone growth and helps the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. But also, muscles, nerves, and our immune system need it.
  • Food sources: very few foods are naturally good sources of Vitamin D, so many foods are fortified.  Natural sources include: fatty fish (i.e. salmon or tuna), beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and mushrooms.  Milk often contains added Vitamin D.
  • Other sources: skin.  A fair skinned person need only spend 10 minutes per day in the sun (wearing shorts and a tank top, without sunscreen), for their skin to make enough.

Studies show that many people, particularly those who live in cooler climates, are at risk for low levels of Vitamin D.  If you live in a cooler climate, it’s less likely that you’re getting enough sun daily, especially during the cooler months (i.e. right now). 

How much do you need?  Good question!  But the answer is that no one really knows.  Depending on who you ask, you’ll probably get a number anywhere from 600 IUs -2,000 IUs per day.  Unfortunately, ‘IU’ doesn’t really mean anything to anyone unless you want to remember the exact amount of IUs in different foods.  To give you some perspective, there are people who take prescribed vitamin D supplements of 50,000 IUs!

I’m not suggesting you run out and get the highest dose you can find, but if you think you might have low Vitamin D levels, it might be worth investigating.  Vitamin D has such a wide range of functions in the body, that studies have found that with only a little more, the risk of death  of all causes decreases 7%.  That’s crazy! 

Anyway, this probably isn’t as exciting to you as it is to me; we’re learning so much more about vitamins, minerals and nutrition in general with every passing year.  The technology is getting better, and so too is our health.  Despite the Quest Lab fiasco a couple years ago (they may have given thousands of people inaccurate results), physicians can order the test and some insurances will cover it.  If you want to take matters into your own hands, there is now an at-home vitamin D blood test kit and it’s supposed to be pretty accurate!

What’s the point?  Most people don’t get enough vitamin D to protect their health and prevent diseases, but are unaware that Vitamin D is such a big issue.

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2 Comments to "Vitamin D: More for me!"

  1. TB1 says:

    Good post! I’ve heard that getting your vitamins from “actual” food as you describe above is the best/purest way to get the most out of your vitamins. Does that mean that supplements or multi-vitamins are not as good? Are there better ones to take if so?

  2. Kate Gardner says:

    Great Question! I definitely agree that getting vitamins from actual food is the “best” way because your body absorbs more when the vitamins are in foods. Mulivitamins/multimineral supplements are a good way to ensure you get what you need daily but they shouldn’t be used in lieu of healthy foods. Compare some labels at the store, but select one that provides the most vitamins and minerals tailored for your age (i.e. I take a women’s one-a-day).

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