Health and Fitness – Vitamin D

2014-05-02_16-00-24Vitamin D is a necessary vitamin for your health. It helps your body absorb calcium from food and supplements. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones.

Vitamin D is also important in other ways. Muscles need it to move, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
What foods provide vitamin D?

•Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
•Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts.
•Mushrooms provide some vitamin D
•Almost all of our milk is fortified with 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin D per quart, however foods made from milk, like cheese and ice cream, are usually not fortified.
•Vitamin D is added to many breakfast cereals and to some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and soy beverages; check the labels for specific amounts.

2014-05-02_16-00-33Can I get vitamin D from the sun?
Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is directly exposed to the sun, and most people meet at least some of their vitamin D requirements this way. Skin exposed to the sun through a window will not produce vitamin D. Cloudy days, shade, and having dark-colored skin also cut down on the amount of vitamin D the skin makes. However, it is wise to limit your exposure to the sun to lower your risk for skin cancer. Those who avoid the sun or cover their bodies with sunscreen or clothing need to include good sources of vitamin D in their diets or take a supplement.

Am you getting enough vitamin D?
The best way to measure of one’s vitamin D status is a blood test.
Below are groups that may not get enough vitamin D:

•Breastfed infants, since human milk is a poor source Vitamin D.
•Older adults, since their skin doesn’t make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as efficiently as when they were young, and their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form.
•People with dark skin because their skin has less ability to produce vitamin D from the sun.
•People with disorders such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease who don’t handle fat properly as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.
•Obese people because their body fat binds to some vitamin D and prevents it from getting into the blood.

What are some effects of vitamin D on health?
Vitamin D is still being studied for its possible connections to several diseases and medical problems, including diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune conditions. Two medical problems already associated with low vitamin D are bone disorders (such as osteoporosis) and some forms of cancer.

Can vitamin D be harmful?

Yes. When amounts in the blood become too high vitamin D can be toxic. Signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss. Excess vitamin D can also damage the kidneys.

The safe upper limit for vitamin D is 1,000 to 1,500 IU/day for infants, 2,500 to 3,000 IU/day for children 1-8 years, and 4,000 IU/day for children 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and lactating women. Vitamin D toxicity almost always occurs from overuse of supplements. Too much sun exposure does not cause vitamin D poisoning because the body limits the amount of this vitamin it produces.

Are there any interactions with vitamin D that I should know about?

Like most dietary supplements, vitamin D may interact or interfere with other medicines or supplements you might be taking. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or other over-the-counter medicines.
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.
By: Janet Hunt