In comparison to most other essential vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods. One exception is oily fish, such as cod, herring, halibut, sardines and salmon (just to name a few), which contain a considerable amount of this essential vitamin. However, because of this shortage of natural sources, several foods are fortified with vitamin D, including milk, cereal and other dairy products. Soymilk, eggs, orange juice, pudding and mushrooms also contain some vitamin D, whether naturally or fortified. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to several health concerns, including poor bone health and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Fortunately, there are at least two other ways to get more vitamin D in your body. In addition to drinking fortified milk and eating plenty of oily fish, you can also try the following ideas for getting more vitamin D.
*Get some sunshine: Vitamin D is unique in that it is the only vitamin that is produced by the body using sunlight. Unfortunately, a sunblock with SPF 15 or higher is also thought to block the body’s production of this important vitamin. Although sunblock is extremely important to protect against skin cancer and prevent premature aging and other skin concerns, a small amount of time outdoors with a sunblock of lower than SPF 15 is sometimes recommended for people with a vitamin D deficiency. Your doctor can help recommend a regimen that allows you to make vitamin D from sunlight without excessive sun exposure or risks.
*Take a supplement: If you take a daily multivitamin, check and see whether it includes vitamin D. The daily recommendation for adults is generally between 200-600 IU, but those already affected by rheumatoid arthritis or a vitamin D deficiency may take up to 1,000 IU per day. Again, your doctor is most qualified to make a recommendation that is right for you. Not all multivitamin supplements include enough vitamin D, so an additional vitamin D supplement may be necessary.
As with any vitamin, it’s always best to get vitamin D naturally, either by eating oily fish, fortified cereal and dairy products, or by getting a bit of sunshine now and then. However, because sources of vitamin D are limited (and in the case of sun exposure, potentially risky), it’s definitely a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement as well. For more information about vitamin D, risks involved with vitamin D deficiency and ways to get more vitamin D, ask your doctor at your next check-up.