Get outside, eat some fish, drink a glass of milk, or pop a pill – that's how easy it is to increase the amount of vitamin D in your body. But the question is, just how effective are those solutions and how much of each is needed? Because the body is extremely receptive to vitamin D, high or low levels effect everything from weight loss and heart disease risk to life expectancy. Recent studies have found that at least 50 percent of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and as many as 75 percent aren't getting enough to help fight disease. These low levels are due to a combination of not spending enough time outdoors, covering up or using sunscreen when exposed to the sun, and choosing soda and other beverages instead of fortified milk and juice.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
- Reduce heart disease risk
- Decrease risk of metabolic syndrome (a condition that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes)
- Prevent bone fractures and decrease risk of osteoporosis
- Reduce risk of developing diabetes
- Boost mood to ward off the blues (seasonal affective disorder)
- Fight against colds and flu
- Maintain calcium and phosphorus levels
- Fight cancer – especially prostate, colon, ovarian and breast
- Enhance ability to lose weight
Where To Find It
Sunlight: Mother Nature gave us the sun as a natural way to get vitamin D. Just 15 minutes of direct sunlight, 3 times per week should be enough to keep you from becoming deficient.
Naturally rich foods: Try oily fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna as well as eggs (yolks), and cod liver oil.
Fortified foods: Many foods are fortified with vitamin D including milk, orange juice, soy milk, some yogurts, and cereals.
Supplements: Choose a multivitamin that contains at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Check with your doctor if you think you may need more.
If you think you may be deficient in vitamin D, ask your doctor to do a blood test to measure your levels of vitamin D. This test is called the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. People most likely to be deficient include African Americans, people who don't spend much time in the sun, and people that live in the northern part of America (latitudes above 37).