Nutrition Advice : Health Benefits of Vitamin D
How to Absorb Vitamin D
There are two main ways to obtain vitamin D: one is through your diet, and the other is through exposure to sunlight. For most people, a combination of dietary measures and time in the sun leads to adequate vitamin D absorption; however, if you have a medical condition (or other limitations such as dietary restrictions and/or living in a climate with very little sun), your doctor may do blood tests to assess your vitamin D levels. If you are deficient, your doctor may recommend vitamin D supplementation to improve your absorption.
Absorbing Dietary Vitamin D
Consume foods that are naturally high in vitamin D.There are very few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D. If you can find some that are and consume them on a regular basis, you will optimize your body's ability to naturally absorb vitamin D. Foods that are naturally high in vitamin D include :
- Cod liver oil
- Eggs, cheese, and beef liver contain small amounts of vitamin D
Choose foods that have been fortified with vitamin D.Because foods that naturally contain vitamin D are hard to come by, there are regulations in many places in the world (including the United States and Canada) that certain foods be fortified with vitamin D prior to being sold at the grocery store. Foods fortified with vitamin D compose the majority of vitamin D in most people's diets. These foods include:
- Some breakfast cereals
- Some brands of orange juice
- Some bread products
- Some yogurt
Ensure that you are consuming the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.The dietary recommended intake of vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) per day for most adults.Most food labels contain information about the nutrients contained in that food — you can generally find the percent of daily value per serving of food for each nutrient. Look at your food labels to see what percentage of daily recommended vitamin D you are getting, and try to plan your diet so that you are consuming 100% of the daily recommended intake.
- Note that the recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 IU for infants less than one year old.
- The daily recommended amount of vitamin D is 800 IU for adults over 70 years old.
- These recommendations may also change if you have an illness that interferes with your body's natural ability to absorb vitamin D.
Producing Vitamin D Through Sunlight
Make an effort to get sun exposure, particularly if you live in certain climates.Some areas of the world are naturally easier to get exposure to sunlight (those areas that are geographically near the equator), as opposed to northern latitudes; however, regardless of where you find yourself on the globe, there are opportunities to take advantage of sunlight as a way to produce more vitamin D.
- The optimum time to get sun exposure to produce vitamin D is between 10am – 3pm, as these tend to be the hours of peak sunlight. Five to thirty minutes of sun exposure a couple of times per week should be sufficient to meet most people's vitamin D requirements.
- Note that people with naturally darker skin require more sunlight to synthesize the same amount of vitamin D in the skin. This is because people with darker skin have more UV protection from the increased amount of melatonin in their skin.
- Also, people of older age need more sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, as the skin's ability to make vitamin D from sunlight decreases with age.
- Note that you are not absorbing vitamin D from the sun; rather, sunlight is what causes your body to produce vitamin D.
Expose your skin if you are wanting to maximize vitamin D production.Although we are culturally and socially trained to wear long clothing and sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun's rays, if you are wanting to produce vitamin D (and particularly if you live in a northern climate or it is a less sunny time of the year, such as the winter), you will want to expose more skin in order to maximize your vitamin D production.
Ensure that you are getting sun exposure in a safe way.While sunlight is one of the best ways to increase your vitamin D, once you have gotten your dose of sunlight, you must continue to exercise caution in the sun, even if it is cloudy or overcast. This means wearing sunscreen and covering your skin. The sun's rays, in addition to being a source of vitamin D, can be cancer-causing if you have too much exposure, particularly at times of the day with peak sunlight.
- Experts suggest that five to 30 minutes of sun exposure, without sunscreen at least twice a week should provide adequate vitamin D exposure. As long as your face, arms, legs, and/or back are exposed, you will be able to reap the positive benefit of the sun's rays.
- Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so it is stored in the liver and fat, You don't have to get sun exposure every day to have enough Vitamin D
- Do not use tanning beds as a source of vitamin D. Although they do indeed provide vitamin D, physicians say that the risks outweigh the benefits. It is better to opt for a combination of natural sunlight combined with dietary sources of vitamin D.
Enhancing Vitamin D Absorption
Determine if you are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.There are certain medical conditions that put you at a heightened risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. These include:
- Liver disease. Vitamin D that is absorbed through your diet or through sunlight is metabolically inert (i.e. non-functional in the body), until it has undergone two reactions, the first of which occurs in the liver. A damaged liver may be unable to perform these reactions and may result in vitamin D deficiency.
- Kidney disease. The second key reaction to metabolize vitamin D and make it functional in your body occurs in the kidneys. Kidney disease may interfere with your body's ability to perform this reaction, which may cause a vitamin D deficiency.
- Gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn's (a form of inflammatory bowel disease), Celiac disease, and Cystic Fibrosis. All of these impair absorption of nutrients through the digestive tract, and thus may lead to inadequate vitamin D absorption.
- Poor nutrition. Those with vegetarian or vegan diets, and/or milk or lactose allergies or intolerances are more susceptible to not getting adequate vitamin D in their diet.
- Lack of exposure to sunlight. Those in northern climates with little sunlight are more prone to lacking vitamin D production through the skin.
- If you fall into any of the above categories, or if you have had a recent unusual fracture (which may be a sign of vitamin D deficiency as it can lead to weakening of the bones), your doctor will likely recommend a blood test to assess your vitamin D levels.
See your doctor for a blood test.The best way to have your vitamin D levels tested to see whether or not you are deficient is to have a blood test. Here's how to interpret your blood test results:
- A vitamin D level of less than 30 nmol/L indicates that there is a high probability you are deficient.
- A vitamin D level of 30 – 50 nmol/L indicates that there is a possibility that you are deficient (there is no exact number that serves as the cutoff).
- A vitamin D level of greater than 50 nmol/L indicates that you most likely have sufficient vitamin D.
- A vitamin D level over 125 nmol/L indicates that you may have excess (too much) vitamin D.
Take vitamin D supplements if your levels are low.If your vitamin D levels fall below 50 nmol/L, you will likely be advised by your physician to begin oral vitamin D supplements. It is recommended to consume 400 – 1000 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily, depending upon your degree of deficiency.
- 1,000 – 1,200 mg of calcium daily is also recommended for those who have been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.
- You will also need to have any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your vitamin D deficiency treated.
- Your doctor will advise a repeat blood test three months after beginning vitamin D supplementation to once again assess your levels.
QuestionWhat are the problems caused by vitamin D deficiency?IxamyayCommunity AnswerBone disorders, muscle cramps, dental issues, muscle weakness, rickets, fatigue, depression, and hair loss. The vitamin is also involved in regulating heartbeat, supporting immune system, skin and bone healing, and helping the body to use calcium properly.Thanks!
- Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption and enables normal mineralization of bone. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones become thin and brittle and can lead to osteoporosis in older adults. In children, a Vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets, where bones to not properly mineralize and leads to soft bones.
Video: HOW I INCREASED MY VITAMIN D ABSORPTION! EASY TO DO!
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