Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It is added to others and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, aiding these minerals to be deposited into teeth and bones, which makes them stronger and healthier. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin D for adults up to age 70 is 600 IU. After age 70, the recommended intake goes up to 800 IU daily. Good sources of Vitamin D include the following.
Vitamin D is known as the "Sunshine Vitamin" because it is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The body synthesizes Vitamin D only when enough has not been consumed in the diet, and the amount synthesized is related to the amount of radiation received. This can vary due to such factors as climatic changes and location. Note here that the skin only makes Vitamin D when the UV index is 4 or higher. (To prevent the risk of skin cancer, avoid exposure to sunlight at 09.00 to 15.00.)
The best food sources of Vitamin D are fatty fish and fish liver oils. Types of fish that provide varying amounts include catfish, wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna, trout, bluefish, and eel. Fish liver oils, like cod liver oil, can provide more than the body needs for maintenance for an entire day.
Vitamin D is often added to food products. Fortified rice, bread, and orange juice are useful in providing the necessary nutritional amount. Many ready-to-eat cereals have Vitamin D added to their list of nutrients. Also, dairy products like yogurt, margarine, and milk (nonfat, reduced fat, whole and soy) are fortified with Vitamin D. Be sure to check product labels, as the amounts of added Vitamin D vary tremendously.
Vitamin D is almost never found in plant foods. However, yeast and mushrooms, when irradiated with UV, provide Vitamin D for the diet. Several green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, provide a good source of the vitamin in a single serving. Herbs, like eyebright and alfalfa, are also excellent plant sources to provide Vitamin D in the daily consumption.
If the diet lacks enough dairy products and fish, and/or if there is not enough exposure to sunlight, then Vitamin D supplements are good sources to add to the diet. Remember, however, that too much Vitamin D in this form can be detrimental, so care needs to be taken when choosing supplements.
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