The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps you grow strong bones and keeps your body healthy. It helps keep two important minerals, calcium and phosphorus, at good levels in your body.
Not many foods are considered good sources of vitamin D. Many foods have vitamin D added to them through a process called fortification. Milk is the principal food in the United States that has been fortified with vitamin D. Your body can make some vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight.
Foods That Contain Vitamin D
- Fatty Fish
- Eggs from hens fed vitamin
- Fortified Cereals Milk Products
- Fortified Juices
How Much Vitamin D?
The recommended amount of vitamin D you need depends on your age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breast fed infants receive 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day. While breast milk is best for most infants, it is a poor source of vitamin D and all breast fed infants should receive supplementation. This supplementation of 400IU vitamin D should be continued through adolescence if intake from foods is insufficient to meet needs.
Your doctor may recommend more than 400IU if your child has low levels of vitamin D in his or her blood or he/she is taking a medication which lowers vitamin D levels.
Causes of Low Vitamin D Levels
The darker your skin, the more at risk you are for becoming vitamin D deficient. If you live in an area that does not have sunshine for a large portion of the year, or you wear sunscreen/sun block as recommended, it is wise to consider supplementation.
What if I Have Cancer?
Vitamin D is especially important for you! The combined effects of chemotherapy, radiation, chronic illness, and sometimes hormone deficiencies, increase the chance that you will develop osteoporosis when you are older. Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissues and the loss of bone density. To stay strong, make sure you getting enough vitamin D along with calcium.
Where Can I Find a Vitamin D Supplement? Do I Need One?
You can find Vitamin D supplements at most pharmacy and drug stores. Your doctor and/or dietitian will tell you if you need to supplement your diet with vitamin D. You can get vitamin D in liquid, tablet, softgel, and capsule form. It may also be just as easy to eat foods that have been fortified with vitamin D to achieve the recommended dose.
Vitamin D comes in two dietary forms: vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, which is found mostly in plants, and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, which is produced in your skin. Most multivitamins contain cholecalciferol as it has been proven improve blood vitamin D levels better than ergocalciferol.
Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D. If you are already taking a calcium supplement, choose one that contains vitamin D. Vitamin D works with Calcium to keep your bones healthy.
If you have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
Nutrition Clinic Room L33
|Nutrition Clinic Room 1296
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
Nutrition Clinic Room 2085