What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium to form and maintain strong bones, and is primarily obtained through sun exposure and diet.
What Diseases/Conditions is Vitamin D Linked To?
Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to older people and those who have digestive problems, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease, as well as liver and kidney disease.
Symptoms of Low Levels
Most people don’t get enough Vitamin D. Your body uses the sunshine to make it. In the winter, people often spend more time indoors and don’t get enough sun. Also, using sunscreen, which helps prevent skin cancer, reduces the amount of sun your body gets.
How can I make sure I have enough Vitamin D?
- Sunshine: Exposure without sunscreen of arms and legs to the sun for 10-15 minutes a few days a week permits the body to make the vitamin D it needs. Darker skinned people require more sun exposure to make adequate vitamin D.
- Diet: The following foods contain vitamin D – egg yolk, liver, oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon and foods with added vitamin D.
What is the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D?
Recommendations vary, but experts have suggested that people need to get more Vitamin D than listed in the dietary reference intakes (DRIs) guideline. The amount of Vitamin D you need changes as you get older.
- Infants starting by age 2 months, children and teens need 200 to 400 International Units (IU) a day.
- Adults up to age 50 need 400 to 800 IU a day.
- Adults age 50 or older need 800 to 1,000 IU a day.
Symptoms of High Levels
Too much Vitamin D is rare, but can happen and is serious when it does. Usually, Vitamin D toxicity is caused by mega-doses of Vitamin D supplements. This can cause too much calcium to build up in your blood. If that happens, you may begin to experience a lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, frequent urination and/or kidney problems.
Who May Want to Have Their Vitamin D Levels Tested?
You may want to have your levels tested if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Lack of exposure to the sun
- Loss of appetite
- Dark skinned
- Older than 65
- Experiencing digestive problems
- Frequently urinating
- Have liver or kidney disease
Always seek the advice of your doctor if you have questions about your results.