Many men and women have a Vitamin D deficiency, more so than might even realize it. Vitamin D is not as readily available in foods as other nutrients are, in fact, sunlight helps to provide more Vitamin D than foods do; however, the dangers of over exposure to sunlight are not worth the risk. This is why Vitamin D supplements are important to providing the body with an adequate supply of the vitamin.
Vitamin D’s Importance
Regardless of whether it comes from food or Vitamin D supplements, it is an important nutrient. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and promote bone growth.
Vitamin D deficiencies in children can cause a problem known as rickets, or soft bones and in adults misshapen bones called osteomalacia.
A deficiency of Vitamin D has been linked to other health conditions, including breast, colon and prostate cancers, depression, weight gain and heart disease. Vitamin D also helps the body to regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system.
The importance of Vitamin D can be seen by the simple fact that the body makes its own Vitamin D using sunlight. People who live in areas that don’t have sufficient sun exposure have a tendency to be deficient in Vitamin D, as do dark skinned people as they don’t absorb the sunlight as well as light skinned people do.
Foods with Vitamin D
Odd as it may seem, very few foods contain Vitamin D naturally. Most foods that do contain it have it added to it, such as Vitamin D enhanced milk.
Food containing Vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna or sardines that are canned in oil, egg yolks and beef or calf liver. Milk is fortified with Vitamin D as are most orange juices, margarines, yogurts and breakfast cereals.
How Much Vitamin D Supplements is needed
Whether it is from foods or Vitamin D supplements, the current recommended daily requirement for Vitamin D is 200 IU for individuals up to age 50, 400 IU for people aged 51 to 70 and 600 IU for people above age 70.
However, there are physicians who say that those amounts are not enough and that at least 1000 IU are needed daily due to most people getting less than optimal amounts of sunshine and not getting enough of the vitamin from milk.
Too Much Vitamin D Supplements?
An excessive amount of Vitamin D can lead to nausea, constipation, kidney stones and an abnormal heart rhythm. Although it is virtually impossible to get too much Vitamin D from sunlight or food, it is possible to get too much if Vitamin D supplements are used.
As with any supplement, Vitamin D supplements should be used under the care of a physician. At the least, they should note that the supplement is being used in the event that complications should arise.