Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that helps us to absorb calcium. We need calcium for strong bones and teeth. As it is fat soluble, vitamin D is stored in our bodies until we need it.
Our bodies don’t produce vitamin D on their own however, so it’s important that we take in enough. If you don’t take in enough vitamin D, you may need a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is found in some foods and added to others. We get vitamin D from cod liver oil, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, milk, cereal, and other foods that have been fortified with vitamin D. We are also able to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Well, sort of. We don’t actually get vitamin D from the sun but the UV rays from the sun allow a process to occur in our bodies that produce vitamin D.
Of course, we have to be careful not to get too much sun but as little as 10 minutes a day of sunlight can provide the recommended intake of the necessary UV rays. What a good lesson about how some things are good in moderation and destructive if over exposed!
If you suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, you will need a vitamin D supplement. Children who don’t get enough vitamin D can suffer from rickets, which is a bone softening disease that can actually re-shape the bones. Women who suffer from a vitamin D deficiency can suffer bone softening diseases as well as brittle bones that break easily.
Infants who are breastfed only do not get enough vitamin D without adding a vitamin D supplement. Some doctors recommend starting an infant on a vitamin D supplement at two months of age unless they are also being fed vitamin D enriched formula.
A law was enacted in 1980 that makes it mandatory for vitamin D to be added to baby formula. It is called the infant formula act of 1980 and its purpose is to ensure that babies are getting the proper nutrients and that the formulas being produced are safe.
If you take a multivitamin, you would not need an additional vitamin D supplement. It can be very dangerous to get too much vitamin D. Too much vitamin D can cause nausea; vomiting and can interfere with heart rhythms as well as other problems. If you decide to take a vitamin D supplement, consult with your doctor for the recommended daily values. As we age, our skin absorbs less UV rays and therefore we produce less vitamin D. Your doctor can measure your vitamin D level with a blood test and then make his recommendations.