A question I often hear this time of year is, "Why is my vitamin D low?"
Because we live in the Midwest, during our winter months we often decrease how much sun we are getting, which can affect how much vitamin D we are making. In addition to spending more time indoors in the winter, we are often covered with hats, coats, and gloves when we are outside. So, what does this mean for our vitamin D levels? They can tank.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient required for bone health but helps our overall health as well. New research indicates it may play a role in preventing chronic diseases.
Vitamin D3 is what your body makes when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D3 is also found in small amounts naturally in certain foods and fortified in other foods. You can find supplements in the D3 form.
How Long Should I Spend In The Sun To Make Adequate Amounts Of D3?
The amount of time you need in the sun for your body to make vitamin D3 depends on your skin type (dark skin needs more time in the sun than fair skin), percent of body exposed, length of exposure, season, time of day and whether sun protection like sunscreen was used.
If it is the middle of winter in the Midwest, you likely will need a supplement or to eat fortified foods.
How Much Vitamin D3 Do I Need?
The recommended intake for vitamin D is 600-800 IU daily for adults. If you currently have insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels, you may need more.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin D?
While people think of milk and dairy products as sources of vitamin D, other foods contain this nutrient, including:
- Eggs: 20-44 IU
- ½ cup fortified orange juice: 68 IU
- 1 cup milk or soy milk with added vitamin D: 108-128 IU
- 1 cup yogurt: 40-80 IU
- 3 ounces sockeye salmon: 450 IU
- 3 ounces canned tuna: 154 IU
Amounts may vary.
Can I Get Too Much Vitamin D From Supplements?
A person can take in too much vitamin D via supplements. The Recommended Upper Limits of vitamin D for healthy adults is 4000 IU.
Try to eat a balanced diet and incorporate foods with vitamin D. If you find your levels to be low, check with your doctor to see if a supplement is right for you.
Does Vitamin D Have Any Drug Interactions?
Dietary supplements can interact with medications or other supplements, so you should always check with your doctor before adding vitamin D or other supplements.
By Krystal Twardy
Registered Dietitian, Franciscan WELLCARE