By Elizabeth Magee, LRD, RD
Raise your hand if you live north of northern Florida!! Make sure to keep reading if you do! (Keep reading either way.)
We know so much more about Vitamin D than we used to, and it turns out it’s SUPER IMPORTANT.
We refer to Vitamin D as “The Sunshine Vitamin” but up here in NoDak, we don’t get enough sun throughout the year to get adequate Vitamin D – hence my question on living in northern Florida.
I overhear people say, “Gotta get outside to get my Vitamin D!” I try really hard to bite my tongue and not go off on a tangent about the fact we actually can’t get enough from the sun in North Dakota, but it’s true. I’m definitely not saying don’t go outside – please GO OUTSIDE, be active, do all the things! And while I’m preaching about going outside, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!!
But we still need to supplement more Vitamin D. The other two ways to get it are from food, and you guessed it, supplements!! Truth be told, it’s the only vitamin I have on my counter; and if we’re really being truthful, I’m terrible at remembering to take it and it’s sitting right there by the coffee.
Before we get into that, I’ll explain why Vitamin D is something you should care about. It protects your bones, it can help protect against high blood pressure and heart disease, certain types of cancers and multiple sclerosis. When you get older it can help protect against falls.
Let’s talk foods first, since that’s my fave. There aren’t many foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Egg yolks are one, but a lot of folks are cautious about eating too many of those; and even if you aren’t cautious, how many are you really eating? Beef liver is another good source, but I can’t think of anyone I personally know eating this daily. Salmon, tuna and sardines are probably a bit more regularly enjoyed. Cow’s milk, soy milk, some orange juices and certain cereals have been fortified to help us out. #thankyou
Recommendations for adults are 600 IU (International Units)/day. But there is research saying this isn’t enough. When I worked in a clinic setting, I always recommended 2000 IUs per day; and if you’re adding a multivitamin, it may include 1000 IU Vitamin D – totaling 3000 IUs which is still safe. If you’re adding Calcium plus Vitamin D you may be adding an extra 200-500 IUs – which is still ok!!!
The point is, we aren’t getting enough from food, we aren’t getting enough from the sun (my favorite misconception), so we need to add more via vitamins!! An even more important part of this is to remember to take them. Which I swear I’m working on. I’m hoping you will too if you aren’t already.
Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.
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