Adults require 600 IU of vitamin D daily (age 70+ require 800 IU), but many of us are not reaching that amount. Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy, and may help fight infections, reduce heart disease risk factors and prevent some types of cancer. So, it’s important to get enough each day.
- Canadian winters do not provide enough sun exposure.
- Sunny seasons require sunblock, which also blocks vitamin D absorption.
- Skin that’s darkly pigmented with melanin is less able to make vitamin D.
- Adults aged 50+ may not produce vitamin D in their skin as efficiently as when they were younger.
What can you do?
Check your status. Ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level with your next set of blood work. That will help you know if you are deficient. If you are, make sure to:
Choose foods that are rich in vitamin D:
- Cow’s milk
- Fortified soy, rice or rice beverages
- Fatty fish such as salmon and trout
- Shiitake mushrooms
Consider a supplement:
Vitamin D is found in few foods, so supplements are often required. Health Canada recommends adults 50+ take 400 IU supplement daily. Supplements are also recommended if you have:
- Low vitamin D levels
- Osteopenia or osteoporosis
- Vegan or vegetarian diets
- Darkly pigmented skin
Vitamin D absorption may be hindered if you have Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease and liver disease. Check with your doctor to ask if a vitamin D supplement is needed.