Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Does Your Diet Have Enough Vitamin D?

Fall is officially here and the days are getting shorter. For most people, the change in seasons leads to a different workout routine due to less sunlight, and a dietary shift to more “comfort” type foods. As you are shifting into fall you should probably take stock of your diet and in particular of your vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D is crucial to health and disease prevention, not only for keeping our bones strong but also for the regulation of immune function and for decreasing the risk for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some types of cancers. While our bodies theoretically can manufacturer all of the vitamin D that we need if we are in direct sunlight for about 30 minutes a day, there are a host of factors that make this more difficulty than you think. We need UVB light in a certain range and there is less of it in the fall and winter months. Skin pigmentation and winter clothing will also prevent us from receiving adequate exposure. So in practical terms, I thought it would be a good idea to list the amount of vitamin D in food that are high in this nutrient as well as the current recommended levels so you can assess your diet and see if you are meeting your needs. For vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products, obtaining vitamin D through foods can be tricky so I have included some good sources of this nutrient that are “veggie friendly”.

First, how much do you need? In 2010, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences established revised Dietary References Intake (DRI) recommendations based on new research. The following RDA’s (Recommended Dietary Allowances) were established:

· Children 1-13 years: 600 IU

· Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU

· Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU

· Adults above 70 years: 800 IU

· Pregnant and lactating women: 600 IU

So where’s the D?

· 1 cup nonfat milk: 115 IU

· 1 cup Silk light, plain soymilk: 119 IU

· Salmon, Chinook, baked, 4oz: 411 IU

· Sardines 3.25oz: 250 IU

· White mushrooms, 1 cup: 164 IU

· Whole egg (the D is in the yolk): 40 IU

· Vitamin D fortified OJ 1 cup: 137 IU

So as you can see, for vegetarians unless you drink a lot of soymilk and eat a lot of mushrooms you may not be meeting your needs through foods. You can do it but it takes some label reading and a bit of sleuthing. The alternative is to supplement with either a D2 or D3 supplement (D2 is vegetarian and D3 usually comes from sheep lanolin. Research shows that both are equally well absorbed). But before you go supplementing, you should probably talk to your MD and see if they can test your vitamin D levels. It is an easy test to do and can provide you with information on your current levels.

Start reading those food labels and keep a running tally for a day or two and post a comment on what you find out.

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