A: Vitamin D is essential for your body. Without it, your body would not be able to absorb calcium, which is necessary for healthy bone and teeth development. Vitamin D also helps protect your body against other conditions, such as cancers, muscle weakness, mood disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Vitamin D is created by your body after it has been exposed to sunlight. During times of the year when sun exposure is limited, such as the winter months, our bodies often are deficient in Vitamin D. When this happens, we often feel weak and fatigued. If we are deficient for long periods of time, we put ourselves at risk for osteoporosis, certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes.
So, how can we be sure we get enough Vitamin D? For most people, 10 – 20 minutes of sunlight four days a week is enough. When this isn’t possible, certain foods contain higher levels of Vitamin D, including fish, fish oil, cheese and eggs. Other foods are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals. Over-the-counter supplements are available, but the dose depends on several factors. Most people need the following amounts of Vitamin D: 50 years and younger: 200-400 IU daily, 50-70 years of age: 400-600 IU daily, older than 70 years of age: 600-800 IU daily.
If you are still concerned about whether or not you are getting enough Vitamin D, contact your health care provider to discuss your options.
Information from www.familydoctor.org, provided by Amy Lamberti, PA-C, Mercy East Family Practice, 5900 E. University Ave., Suite 200, 643-2400.