The Right Dose of D
If you experience symptoms of bone pain or muscle weakness, you may be one of the millions of Americans who aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Here’s why you need it and where to get more.
Problems from vitamin D deficiency:
- Osteoporosis (brittle and fragile bones)
- Low calcium levels
- Osteomalacia (bone softening that can lead to bowing, or rickets)
- Some abnormal muscle contractions
Good food sources of vitamin D:
- Fortified milk
The sunshine vitamin
The body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. But people living on the Southeastern coast need to also be mindful of sun exposure. Getting about 15-20 minutes regularly can be beneficial, but more than that puts you at risk.
“Sun protection in our region is vital to prevent complications such as skin cancer,” says Frederick Harold, DO, of St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Primary Care in Richmond Hill. “Try to avoid peak sun hours when you’re outside.”
Older adults and people with darker skin may have less ability to make vitamin D from sunlight. Supplements are a good source for these patients. The Recommended Dietary Allowance, measured in International Units (IU), are:
- Infants - 400 IU
- Children and Adults (1 -70 years old) - 600 IU
- Older Adults (70+ years) - 800 IU
Talking with your doctor about your diet and any chronic symptoms you may have can help you discover a deficiency in vitamin D or any other essential vitamin. To learn about some other important vitamins and minerals, take our quiz.