4 Ways to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D

It can be hard to make sure you’re getting the right amount of important nutrients every day, but one that people tend to overlook is vitamin D. You can get it naturally from the sun, so chances are you’re getting enough, right? That’s not actually true. In fact, 75 percent of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency—a condition that can lead to weak bones, a poor immune system and a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more.

So how much do you need? The daily recommended dose of vitamin D for adults under the age of 70 is 600 international units (IU—the way vitamin D is measured). For adults over the age of 70, the daily dose is 800 IU. Not sure what that means? Here are simple things you can do to make sure you’re getting enough every day:

  1. Get more sun. A quick 10-minute walk during the middle of the day in the summertime can give your body all of the vitamin D you need for the day. The key is wearing shorts and a tank top (if you’re going out for longer, definitely slather on the SPF to protect yourself). Your body even stores some of the extra vitamin D to help you during the darker winter months (Michigan doesn’t get enough sunlight in the winter to give your body enough vitamin D). If you have darker skin, you might need to spend up to an hour in the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D.
  2. Eat foods that are rich in vitamin D. Beef, chicken and fatty fish are all rich in vitamin D. If you like seafood, try incorporating more salmon, shrimp, mackerel, sardines and fresh herring into your diet. Even vegetables like spinach, kale and okra are rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D is also added to some foods like tofu, orange juice and a few dairy products.
  3. Eat breakfast. Just two eggs, a glass of orange juice and a bowl of cereal and milk can add up to about 300 IU of vitamin D—half of what you need in the day.
  4. Talk to your primary doctor about supplements. If you are not able to get much sun, it’s the winter or your diet is low in vitamin D, a supplement may be a good idea. Look for a supplement that says it’s vitamin D3—that’s the kind of vitamin D that’s produced naturally by your skin and is the easiest for your body to absorb.

Your doctor might suggest a vitamin D test, which can determine if you have a deficiency or not. You only need one if you have other risk factors, like osteoporosis. And while low vitamin D levels are bad, so are high levels. Too much vitamin D—more than 4,000 IU a day—can be damaging to your kidneys.

For more information on vitamin D testing, please visit: http://www.choosingwisely.org/.

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  1. Thank you for these tips. My doctor says that I need to get more vitamin D. I have been thinking about supplements. I think that they are an easy way to get what I need. Especially since I am really not good at eating breakfast.

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