Friday, April 24, 2015

The Sunshine Vitamin- Vitamin D

            The sunshine vitamin, or vitamin D, is obtained through food consumption or through, as the nickname might suggest, mild sunlight exposure. With summer right around the corner it only seems fitting to discuss the benefits of vitamin D. Vitamin D is technically considered a pro-hormone because the body can produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D with approximately 5 to 10 minutes of sun exposure on bare skin two to three times per week. However, it is estimated that 50 % of adults worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, which is why dietary intake of foods rich in vitamin D seems to be important. Vitamin D consumption also may provide numerous health benefits: bone strength, decreased flu risk, and cancer prevention.

            Vitamin D plays a role in calcium and phosphorous levels, which are the primary minerals in bones. A Vitamin D deficiency may present rickets in children, which results in a bow-legged appearance, as well as osteoporosis, which weakens bones and is capable of inducing stress fractures.
            One study found that children supplemented with 1200 international units (IUs) of vitamin D during the winter month had a decreased risk for influenza A.

            Recent studies have also found that Vitamin D’s impact in cell growth and communication can aid in cancer prevention by slowing the growth and development of cancerous cells through calcitrol, which is the hormonally active form of vitamin D.

            The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 200 IUs; 400 IUs is recommended for adults over 50, and 600 IUs for adults over 70. The best way to get vitamin D through diet is by consuming fatty fish such as herring, salmon, and sardines. Milk is also fortified with vitamin D. 

Supplements are also a means of obtaining vitamin D, but consuming foods rich in vitamin D is ideal.

            There is also a toxicity risk at intakes greater than 4000 IUs, but the National Institutes of Health note that toxicity is rare if intake is less than 10000 IUs.

To see this article and a complete list of vitamin D sources visit:

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