Vitamin D, also known as "the sunshine vitamin," enables the body to retain calcium and phosphorus. It is also essential to bone formation and aids in the absorption of vitamin A. It boosts the immune system and helps maintain efficient blood clotting and a normal heartbeat. The human body can produce vitamin D in the skin, using a chemical reaction that requires sun light (specifically ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.)
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
In the United States, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of vitamin D is 5 micrograms (200 IU) per day for a 25-year-old male, increasing to 15 micrograms (600 IU) a day at age 70. The upper limits are 50 micrograms per day.
What Happens If You Don't Get Enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency is known as rickets results in a deformed skull and ribcage and bowlegs. In the early 1900's rickets was very common due to vit D deficiency, because people were not getting enough sunlight since they were working long hours in dark factories and smog and pollution was harming outside air quality. Since common foods in most people's diets do not supply sufficient vitamin D, the government decided to fortify milk with vitamin D. Because of this, rickets occurs only rarely in the United States nowadays.
Vitamin D deficiency can also result in tooth decay, weak muscles, pain in the bones, and muscle spasms. Clearly, it is a very good idea to intake sufficient amounts of this vitamin (especially since many people do not get enough), because these problems caused by a extreme deficiency are pretty severe.
What Happens If You Get Too Much Vitamin D?
Overdosing with vitamin D can cause a reduction in appetite, vitamin poisoning, lethargy, and kidney damage. Although this vitamin is fat soluble (and therefore excessive amounts cannot be quickly excreted through urine), it is still extremely rare to have a vitamin D overdose. It is much more common for people to have a slight difficiency.
Good Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is found already made in liver, tuna, egg yolk, and fortified milk. The body can also manufacture Vitamin D from the sterols found in many foods. The following chart outlines the best sources of Vitamin D.
|Good Sources of Vitamin D|
|Cod liver oil||1 tbs||1,360|
|Mackerel (cooked)||3.5 oz||345|
|Salmon (cooked)||3.5 oz||360|
|Sardines (canned in oil, drained)||1.75 oz||250|
|Tuna (canned in oil)||3 oz||200|
|Fortified milk||1 cup ||100|
|Fortified margarine||2 tsp||53|
|*IU of Vitamin D|
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