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What You Should Know About Vitamin D

By now, we should be clear that there are multiple nutrients and vitamins that our body needs during the different stages of our lives. However, in the midst of so much information we receive, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand which ones should have priority in our diet and care.

Vitamin D is a nutrient the body needs to strengthen bones and keep them healthy, explains the Mayo Clinic. In fact, the body can only absorb calcium, the main component of bone, when vitamin D is present. Vitamin D also regulates many other cellular functions in the body. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties contribute to immune system health, muscle function and brain cell activity.

Where to find Vitamin D

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D isn't found naturally in many foods, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereals, and fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. The body also generates vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in the skin into the active form of the vitamin (calciferol).

The amount of vitamin D that the skin generates depends on many factors. Depending on where you live and what your lifestyle is, vitamin D production can decrease or be completely null during certain times of the year. Although it is important to prevent skin cancer, sunscreens can also decrease vitamin D production.

Many older adults are not regularly exposed to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. If your doctor suspects you lack vitamin D, he or she can check it with a simple blood test.

The role of vitamin D supplements

Experts agree that taking a multivitamin with vitamin D can help improve bone health. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to 12 months, 600 IU for people aged 1 to 70 years, and 800 for people over 70.

The Mayo Clinic lists a number of health aspects for which evidence has been found that vitamin D might help:

  • Cancer

  • Cognitive health

  • Inherited bone disorders

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Osteomalacia

  • Osteoporosis

  • Psoriasis

  • Riquets

If you want to learn more about the importance of Vitamin D for bone development, visit the Mayo Clinic or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

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