Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin for good reason. Not only does your body make vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, but we also know vitamin D can ward off many health problems.
Vitamin D is a naturally occurring compound that regulates the body’s use of calcium and phosphorus. It’s crucial for the formation of bone and teeth.
Because vitamin D is so important to bone growth, some researchers have wondered if supplements can help joint pain.
The researchers concluded that the low vitamin D levels were a complication of RA. Other
Perhaps the best-known benefit of vitamin D is that it strengthens bones and teeth. Before vitamin D was routinely added to food, including milk, children were at risk for a condition known as rickets.
In adults, vitamin D wards off osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis (loss of bone mass). People with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to experience infection and insulin resistance. Some
For most people, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU). Babies up to 1 year of age need only 400 IU, and adults older than 70 should have 800 IU. To get your recommended daily allowance, make sure you eat the right foods and get sunlight.
Eat the right foods
Food is the best way to get vitamin D. Fish, dairy, and fortified cereal are good sources.
Sources of vitamin D
|Food||IU per serving|
|Trout (rainbow), farmed, cooked, 3 ounces||645|
|Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces||570|
|Mushrooms, white, raw, sliced, exposed to UV light, 1/2 cup||366|
|Milk, 2% milkfat, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup||120|
|Sardines (Atlantic), canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines||46|
|Egg, 1 large||44|
|Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces||42|
|Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces||40|
Get some sunlight
Sun exposure is the second significant source of vitamin D. Ultraviolet (UV) light starts a chemical reaction in the skin that produces a usable form of vitamin D. How much vitamin D your body produces changes with the environment and how well your skin absorbs vitamin D. Those with darker skin need more sun exposure.
The right dose of sunshine for getting vitamin D is hard to estimate. However, depending on skin color and how well you absorb vitamin D, aim for about 5 to 30 minutes of exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice per week.
The exposure should be to your face, arms, legs, or back, without sunscreen. Sunscreens with an SPF of 8 or higher block vitamin D-producing UV rays.
For some people, a supplement may be needed regardless of the amount of time in the sun. Talk to your healthcare provider about your vitamin D levels.
If you work at an office job or live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of sun, consider purchasing a vitamin D lamp.
It’s very rare to get too much vitamin D. But overdose can potentially be very serious. Vitamin D toxicity is most likely to be caused by taking too many supplements.
Taking 60,000 IU per day of vitamin D for several months can cause vitamin D toxicity. This is about 100 times the typical adult recommended dietary allowance of 600 IU. People who have certain health problems may need less vitamin D than the average person and be more susceptible to excess levels.
Your body regulates the amount of vitamin D it gets from sunlight and food. It’s difficult to get too much vitamin D from the sun. Too much time in the sun interferes with your body creating vitamin D.
The biggest risk of sun exposure is skin cancer. You should wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 before going outside into the sun. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.
Vitamin D toxicity can lead to a buildup of calcium in your blood. This is a condition known as hypercalcemia. The symptoms include:
- poor appetite
- frequent urination
- kidney problems
The primary treatment is to reduce or discontinue use of vitamin D supplements. In extreme cases, intravenous fluids or medications may be necessary.
People who have low levels of vitamin D often have joint pain. Vitamin D supplements may treat joint pain in some people who have a vitamin D deficiency. However, research doesn’t support that people with healthy levels of vitamin D take should take these supplements for joint pain.