Vitamin D is a vital nutrient shown to be beneficial to overall health. It helps strengthen the immune system and fend off infection.
When scientists reviewed results from a recent meta-analysis about the effects of vitamin D for bone health, they found interesting results. AT FIRST it appeared that Vitamin D had no real effect on bone health. However, when they took out the results of those people who admitted they didn’t actually take the vitamin, the results were dramatic. Those who took at least6 800 IU of Vitamin D daily had a 30% lower risk of breaking their hip. In addition, those taking between 700 and 1,000 IU daily were able to lower their risk of falling by 20%.
Health & Nutrition Letter from Tufts University
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamin supplements. Good sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals (both of which are fortified with vitamin D), and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement, but the level in most multivitamins (400 IU) is too low. Encouragingly, some manufacturers have begun adding 800 or 1,000 IU of vitamin D to their standard multivitamin preparations. If the multivitamin you take does not have 1,000 IU of vitamin D, you may want to consider adding a separate vitamin D supplement, especially if you don’t spend much time in the sun. Talk to your healthcare provider.
The body also manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol, through a process triggered by the action of sunlight on skin, hence its nickname, “the sunshine vitamin.” Yet some people do not make enough vitamin D from the sun, among them, people who have a darker skin tone, who are overweight, who are older, and who cover up when they are in the sun.
Correctly applied sunscreen reduces our ability to absorb vitamin D by more than 90 percent. And not all sunlight is created equal: The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays—the so-called “tanning” rays, and the rays that trigger the skin to produce vitamin D—are stronger near the equator and weaker at higher latitudes. So, in the fall and winter, people who live at higher latitudes (in the northern U.S. and Europe, for example) can’t make much if any vitamin D from the sun.