Are you getting enough vitamin D?

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Everyone needs vitamin D for good health. Vitamin D is important because:

•  It helps keep your bones strong.

•  Muscles need it for strength and movement.

•  Nerves use it when they send messages throughout the body.

•  The immune system needs it to fight off illnesses.

 

Which foods have vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found in only a few foods, including:

•  Fortified milk or milk alternatives like soy or almond milk

•  Fortified cereals or juices

•  Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel

•  Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks

•  Mushrooms

 

Sun exposure

The body can make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun. But being out in the sun can raise your risk of getting skin cancer.

 

Because of the cancer risk, most experts don’t recommend that you spend a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen. Instead, you should make sure you get enough vitamin D through diet or supplements.

 

Taking vitamin D supplements

Some people may need to take vitamin D, but others don’t. It depends on your health and how much you get from your diet or the sun.

 

If you are in one of these groups, you may have lower levels of vitamin D:

•  People who have darker skin

•  Older adults

•  People who have Crohn’s disease or celiac disease

•  People who are obese

 

Recommended Daily- Amounts of Vitamin D

Birth to 12 months: 400 IU

Children 1–13 years: 600 IU

Teens 14–18 years: 600 IU

Adults 19–70 years: 600 IU

Adults 71 years+: 800 IU

Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU

 

With vitamin D, more is not always better. Vitamin D can be toxic at high levels. Don’t take more than these amounts in supplements unless your doctor tells you to.

 

Be careful with supplements

Before taking vitamin D or any supplement, ask your doctor about it. Some supplements can interfere with medications or cause side effects.

 

Whenever you can, get your vitamin D and other nutrients from healthy foods. Don’t use supplements to replace a healthy diet.

 

Sources: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

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