Vitamin D is made in our bodies in response to sunlight. It is only found naturally in a small number of foods, such as particular types of fish, and is sometimes added to dairy and other foods.
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and bone strength. It has functions in cell growth, nerve and muscles, the immune system, and in reduction of inflammation.
Almost 40% of Americans have low levels of vitamin D.
Low levels are more likely when a person isn’t often in sunlight, uses sunscreen, doesn’t eat dairy products, has a dark skin tone, has diabetes or obesity, or is over 65 years old. Many people should take a vitamin D supplement, and it’s essential when they fall into any of the above categories.
The recommended daily amount is 600 international units (IU) [15 micrograms] per day of vitamin D3. Taking over 4000 IU/day can be harmful.
Make a note to discuss your vitamin D status with your healthcare provider once a year and test for sufficient levels. Ultimately your healthcare provider should determine the appropriate dose of vitamin D based on your lab results.