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Vitamin D: Acquiring the Right Amount

Vitamin D: Acquiring the Right Amount

Where Do I Get Vitamin D?
You can get vitamin D from direct sun exposure, from your diet, and from supplements.

In theory, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sun exposure. However, many people stay indoors for long periods or work in offices and have limited daily exposure to sunlight. Obtaining Vitamin D through diet can be difficult as only certain foods contain vitamin D. Supplements may be taken to meet dietary requirements of Vitamin D.

What Factors Affect my Vitamin D Level?
You may not be getting enough vitamin D if you are:

  • Housebound or in residential care
    People who stay indoors compound their potential vitamin D deficiency because they limit sunlight exposure.
  • Naturally dark skinned (darker skin reduces the penetration of UV light)
    Darker skin contains melanin, a compound that blocks the production of vitamin D in response to UVB rays.
  • Avoiding the sun
    Avoiding exposure to the sun because of cultural reasons or medications, means less vitamin D.
  • Working indoors (may include office, factory, night shift workers)
  • Covering your body for cultural or religious reasons

Sources of Vitamin D in Food
For an important nutrient, few foods are natural sources of vitamin D. Here are some foods that contain vitamin D:

Dietary sources of vitamin D include:1

  • Vitamin D fortified margarine (fortification is mandatory in Australia for table margarines)
  • Eggs
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel
  • Vitamin D fortified milk products including yoghurt and cheese (fortification is voluntary for milk products in Australia)

Dietary Supplements
Since relatively few consumed foods supply vitamin D, many people can have difficulties meeting their Vitamin D requirements. Dietary supplements can help fill the gap.

The Next Step

To find out how much vitamin D is right for you, see your doctor and ask to have your blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D checked.

Vitamin D supplements have the potential to interact with some medications. Ask your doctor about these potential for these interactions.

References: 
1. Dieticians Association of Australia, vitamin D. [Accessed 22 January 2016] http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vitamin-d/