Vitamin D is often called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, because our skin is able to make the vitamin when exposed to the sun. BUT sunscreen, clothing, dark winter months, overcast weather and being indoors can stop the sun’s rays from reaching your skin. If you are practicing sun safety – you may not be absorbing vitamin D.
The amount of vitamin D that your body can make from sunlight also depends on your age, where you live and your skin tone.
We need vitamin D to help our bodies use calcium and phosphorous for strong bones and teeth. Too little vitamin D can cause calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood to decrease. This can cause rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) or osteoporosis (fragile bones) in adults.
Foods and beverages that have added vitamin D are excellent
sources of vitamin D. Always check the label on packaged foods. You know vitamin D has been added if you see “fortified” or “enriched” on the label. Local fish such as salmon and lake trout are also excellent sources of vitamin D.
Milk and Alternatives Use milk or fortified soy beverage instead of water when making pancakes, muffins, soups, puddings, smoothies and sauces Make a yogurt parfait for breakfast with yogurt, fruit and nuts (check the label to see if the yogurt has vitamin D) Make hot chocolate with milk instead of water Add milk to coffee instead of whitener.
Meat and Alternatives Try smoked salmon on crackers or in a wrap Add sardines to pizza or appetizers Make scrambled eggs with added milk Try canned salmon in a wrap or sandwich Put local fish such as salmon or lake trout on the dinner menu.
Check out the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to see if a packaged food has vitamin D. A food has a lot of vitamin D if it has at least 15% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin D per serving.
It is difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone. You can take a vitamin D supplement or a multivitamin with vitamin D in it. Infants All breastfed, healthy term babies should receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 400IU until the diet provides adequate vitamin D. Infants who are exclusively formula-fed do not need a vitamin D supplement since vitamin D is already added to formula A single vitamin D3 supplement (without other vitamins) in a liquid (drop) format is recommended for infants. Other vitamin D products such as vitamin D2 or a multivitamin (which contains vitamin D) are not recommended for infants.
Adults over 50 years
Health Canada recommends that adults over 50 years take a supplement of 400 IU/day in addition to vitamin D in the diet.
I can only find vitamin D in 400IU or 1000IU. How do I know which one to buy? The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin D is 4000 IU for adults. Total vitamin D intake from food and supplements should remain below the UL. Meaning, it is safe to consume 1000 IU of vitamin D daily year round.