Vitamin D


Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Vit D is the only vitamin (some say it is really a hormone) that is not necessarily something you need to get from your diet. Sunlight on your skin activates a precursor that manufactures this vitamin. However, if you live in northern climates or have very dark skin, it may be more difficult for you to get enough sunshine. In that case, you will need to get the sunshine vitamin from your diet.

Those most affected by deficiency are children living in poverty and the elderly. In developed countries, rickets (deficiency in children) is uncommon. However, infants who are breast fed by mothers who don’t get enough sunshine or vitamin fortified foods may become deficient.

Elderly at risk

The elderly are at risk because with advancing age, the body becomes less able to manufacture the sunshine vitamin. In addition, older people tend to stay out of the sun or to use sunscreen. Vegans and vegetarians who do not include fortified products in their diets, are also at risk for deficiency.


Although Vit D is mostly known for its role in healthy bones, recent studies have shown that it may have a protective influence against some types of cancer and some autoimmune diseases. There is also some research that shows that Vit D helps protect against viruses such as respiratory flu and other viruses.

Click on this link for information on eating healthy during and after cancer treatment.

Caveat: Of all the vitamins, Vitamin D is the most likely to become toxic if taken in large doses. Too much Vit D can cause calcification of the soft tissues of the body.

All nutrients work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of the sunshine vitamin, one of the fat-soluble vitamins, in your good health.

What it does Promotes healthy bone growth and density; Helps balance blood calcium levels; Part of healthy immune function
Daily needs (AI#) [Infants: 10 µg or 400 IU]
[Children: 15 µg or 600 IU]
[Men: 15-20 µg* or 600-800 IU ]
[Women: 15-20µg* or 600-800 IU]
[Pregnant: 15 µg or 600 IU]
[Lactating: 15 µg or 600 IU]
Not enough Rickets in children, Soft bones, back pain and leg pain in adults; Osteoporosis
Too Much High blood calcium level; calcification of soft tissues(Upper Limit established by USDA for infants, 0-6 months is 25 µg or 1,000 IU, infants, 6-12 months is 37.5 µg or 1,500 IU, children, 1-3 years is 62.5 µg or 2,500 IU, children 4-8 years is 75 µg oe 3,000 IU, and children 9-13 years and adults is 100 µg or 4,000 IU.)
Foods Sunlight, Fortified dairy products and cereals, Liver, Eggs, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Fish oil
# Vitamin D needs are based in Adequate Intake “AI”, the amount the average healthy person consumes. There is not enough scientific evidence to establish an RDA. These amounts are based on getting Vitamin D from diet alone and not from the sun.
*The higher level of Vitamin D is for adults 71 years and older.

Get Tested

The best way to know if you need to supplement with Vitamin D, is to get tested to determine your current level.  Here are some links to help you make sense of the numbers once you know what your Vit D level is. 

Our thanks to one of our regular website visitors, Don, for providing the links to these helpful websites.

Interesting Fact: Although many health experts recommend that you wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun, sunscreens with SPF of 8 and above also block the ability of your body to produce Vit D from the very same sunlight.

It seems we are always trying to balance the harmful effects with the beneficial effects. Some health experts suggest that you spend ten to twenty minutes in the sun each day without wearing sunscreen. If your skin is dark, you will require as much as an hour each day of sunshine to achieve the same effect. (Of course, you should check with your doctor, especially if you have already been diagnosed with skin cancer.)

Click here to go from Vitamin D page to Healthy Eating for Seniors page.