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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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What's The Big "D" Deal?

What is all the fuss about Vitamin D? Doctors are starting to routinely test for Vitamin D now, but why do we need to care about it?

Intro to Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D is dubbed the "sunshine vitamin" because we can get it from sunshine (if the UV light is strong enough, we aren't wearing sunscreen, and we have major body parts exposed to the sun for 10-15 minutes).
  • We used to think Vitamin D was just a way to prevent rickets and soft bones. It does help bones absorb calcium.
  • Recent evidence is linking low levels of Vitamin D to all kinds of diseases and disorders: diabetes, cancer, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, weak immune systems, and more.
  • The current Daily Value (DV) on a food label is set at 400 IU for Vitamin D. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine is expected to raise the recommended level in May, 2010.

Food Sources
Cod liver oil: 1,360 IU (but be careful about overdosing on Vitamin A)
Salmon, 3 oz cooked: 794 IU
Mushrooms exposed to UV light, 3 oz: 400 IU
Mackerel, 3 oz cooked: 388
Tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 oz: 154 IU
Milk, (any fat content) Vitamin D fortified, 8 oz: 115-124 IU
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of DV for Vitamin D: 80 IU
Egg, yolk, 1 large: 25 IU
Cheese, 1 oz: 6 IU

It is difficult to get 400 IU of Vitamin D daily, let alone more. Supplements are a great option. Look for it in the form of Vitamin D3.

Most multivitamins have 400 IU. Some scientists are recommending everyone take 2000 IU daily, and they recommend taking more if you have been tested as deficient. Of course, check with your doctor if you are unsure of how much to take.

Did you know?
  • Vitamin D is actually a hormone but it has been classified as a fat soluble vitamin.
  • It is estimated that 80% of adults and 73% of children have deficient or insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D.
  • You can find out your Vitamin D status with a simple blood test. Your doctor can order it or you can get it yourself here!
  • It takes about 1000 IU to raise your blood value about 10 ug/dl.
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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