A: Vitamin D is essential to help your body absorb and use calcium to help build strong bones and teeth. It also helps your body maintain a normal level of phosphorus. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen.
Sources of vitamin D. The best food sources of naturally occurring vitamin D are fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, plus beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and mushrooms. Foods fortified with vitamin D include milk and soy or other milk alternative beverages. (Note: Dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream, usually are not fortified with vitamin D.)
The ultraviolet rays of the sun. Ultraviolet B rays help the body make vitamin D. Sun exposure is most the most common way to get all the vitamin D needed. You don’t need to be out in the sun long to get enough sunlight to help your body make vitamin D. You’ll get enough if you spend 10 to 15 minutes outdoors between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. two to four days a week. The sunlight stimulates a hormone in your body to make vitamin D.
Older adults also have problems making enough vitamin D because their skin is less efficient at using the sunshine and at a high risk for vitamin D deficiency. Often, they don’t eat enough foods that contain vitamin D and may take medications that interfere with the body’s production of it.
Consult with your physician or pharmacist for recommendations on vitamin D.
Information provided by Bill Monroe R. Ph., Medicap Pharmacy, 400 N. Elm St., Jefferson, 515-386-2164.