How to Get Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a hormone that plays a role in bone health. Without sufficient levels, a bone softening disease called osteomalacia can occur, and there is some very preliminary evidence that low levels may be linked with certain cancers. You should know how to get vitamin D levels to a proper amount in your body, to keep bones healthy and stave off general health problems.

The primary method of getting more vitamin D is thru sunlight exposure. About 20 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week should be enough to get most people the vitamin D they need, unless you are dark-skinned. Dark-skinned people absorb less sunlight than lighter skinned people, and will need to consider stepping up the sun exposure.

Of course, too much sun carries well known risks as well, such as skin cancer. Don’t overdo the sun bathing. There are other ways to get your vitamin D as well.

While it isn’t abundantly common from food sources, there are several ways to get it from your diet. The highest level of vitamin D are found in fatty fishes, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, catfish and the like. These each carry around 300 to 400 IU per 85 grams or so. The daily requirement is 600 IU, and so eating fish daily will get you most of the way there.

For vegetarians, there are UV irradiated mushrooms, which also have about 400 IU per quarter pound. And most milk is now fortified with vitamin D, as are many breakfast cereals.

After food, the  most efficient way to get D is to use a vitamin supplement. These generally come in 400 to 2000 IU tablets, but you won’t need more than about 1000 IU per day. The recommended daily allowance is 600. Toxicity occurs if you take it at levels above 50,000 IU per day for several month, but there is some evidence that levels over 4000 per day may lead to hardening of the arteries, cardiovascular disease, and possibly even a greater risk of cancer.