By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Have you ever thought much about different vitamins and minerals and how important they really are to your health? While there is a long list of different vitamins that are important, some professionals believe vitamin D is at the top of the list.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that can be consumed in the diet and your body can make vitamin D when ultraviolet rays from the sun target your skin which promotes the production of vitamin D inside your body. A key role of vitamin D is to enhance calcium absorption which calcium is a key molecule in the contraction of every muscle in the body and it improves bone mineral density and muscle strength.
What is the recommended dose?
According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended dose for most adults is 600 IU (international units) which is equivalent to 15 mcg (micrograms). While most naturally occurring foods are low in vitamin D, the food we often eat has been fortified with vitamin D, so it helps us reach that 600 IU (or 15 mcg) level we need. Just know the absolute best way to ensure you reach the adequate intake goal is to consume a multivitamin. A daily multivitamin will provide you with more than enough vitamin D each day as some multivitamins will contain 1000 IUs or 25 mcg in a single daily dose.
Get some sun exposure
In addition to vitamin D, it is imperative for everyone to get sun exposure. During the extremely hot summer months or cloudy, cold winter months it can be challenging, but frequent sun exposure is key. As previously mentioned, the UV rays can activate vitamin D production, however, sunlight exposure through a window does not result in vitamin D production.
With that said, it is critical to be outside on a sunny day for a safe amount of time. Too much exposure to UV light can be harmful, but it takes a lot of exposure to be harmful to most people.
Here is a small list of people that are at a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Dark-skinned populations– are at a greater risk because of the increased melanin in skin pigments prevents vitamin D production from sunlight exposure.
Older adults -are at a greater risk because their skin has a reduced ability to synthesize vitamin D and they are often indoors more.
Breastfed infants– because human milk is not rich in vitamin D. Infants should have vitamin D supplemented with their breast milk.
Obese people- because of the large amount of body fat alters the amount of vitamin D in the blood that can be used by the body
*Before starting or changing to any vitamin or dietary regimen, consult with a medical healthcare provider and/or registered licensed dietitian
Mogire, Reagan M., et al. “Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Africa: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The Lancet Global Health 8.1 (2020): e134-e142.
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