Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for human health. It plays an essential role in bone growth, immune system function, blood clotting and many other functions. People with low vitamin D levels are at risk of developing rickets (softening of bones), osteomalacia (weakness or loss of muscle tone) and even cancer. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to higher rates of certain cancers, such as colon, lung and prostate cancer.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 400 IU per day. However, it’s not just adults who need to get adequate amounts of this nutrient; children under six months old need 800 IU each day. For those over 60 years old, the RDA is 2,000 IU per day.
It’s important to note that vitamin D is fat soluble. So if you don’t eat any foods rich in vitamin D, your body won’t absorb enough of the nutrients from these foods to meet your needs. Foods high in vitamin D include oily fish like salmon, tuna and herring, fortified milk products (such as soy milk), eggs from cage free chickens and supplements made up of both natural and synthetic forms of vitamin D.
If you avoid drinking milk and opt for a soy or almond milk alternative instead, make sure that it contains at least the same amount of vitamin D as milk, which is 100 IU per cup. And for those who would rather take a supplement, make sure the vitamin D content in each tablet is 1000 IU or more.
Even though there are some great food sources of vitamin D, sometimes you may not get enough from your diet alone. In this case, a vitamin D supplement can help. The best way to prevent a vitamin D deficiency is to get your levels tested.
If they are low, you can easily take a supplement or start eating more foods rich in this nutrient.
For many people, it’s much easier to take a supplement than try to eat more fish or drink more milk each day. Just be sure to get your levels tested regularly so that you don’t end up with too much vitamin D; this can be just as dangerous as having too little. Speak with your doctor about what’s best for you.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in keeping your bones, teeth and muscles healthy. The nutrient also helps your body fight off diseases by boosting the function of your immune system.
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Veganism and osteoporosis: a review of the current literature by AM Smith – International journal of nursing practice, 2006 – Wiley Online Library
Do sunlight and vitamin D reduce the likelihood of colon cancer? by CF Garland, FC Garland – International journal of epidemiology, 1980 – academic.oup.com