I took the dog for a walk today in the beautiful sunshine. Since I had sunblock on my face, maybe I got a little vitamin D once I took my gloves off (it was a warm day, finally!). Your body needs sunlight to manufacture vitamin D, as you probably know. Otherwise, you need to get it from food or a supplement.
How much vitamin D do you need? The Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends 600 IU (more if you are over 70 years of age). Vitamin D is in certain fish and fortified foods in larger amounts. How much is in what you eat? WebMD says:
Amount of vitamin D in sample food sources:
1 Tbsp cod liver oil: 1,360 IU
3 oz. salmon: 800 IU
8 oz. fortified milk: 100 IU
8 oz. fortified orange juice: 100 IU
3 oz. irradiated* mushrooms: 400 IU
(*Meaning the mushrooms are exposed to UV light, which causes them to form more D than when they are just grown the usual way.)
Why pay attention to how much vitamin D you get? It turns out that vitamin D is important in lots of ways. The benefits of vitamin D are detailed in another WebMD article. Here is just a sampling:
If you want to lower your blood pressure, vitamin D may be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re trying to reduce your risk of diabetes, or lower your chances of heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis, then vitamin D should be at the front of the line in your daily supplement regimen.
If you can have your doctor check your vitamin D levels with a blood test, that is probably best. If it’s low, you can decide what else to eat or if a supplement might be useful.
Cool NASA photo of the sun’s coronal loops via National Geographic