Maintaining a good level of Vitamin D is important for bone health and helps to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also thought to help with the body’s immune system, fight certain cancers and help prevent disease; such as heart disease and diabetes.
Your body naturally produces Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. During the long winter months, this can be a challenge for most Canadians. The cold weather keeps many of us inside, and when out, we are usually quite bundled up.
It’s a good idea to add foods to your diet throughout the winter to help maintain your Vitamin D levels. Foods that contain Vitamin D include:
Fatty fish such as tuna and salmon
Maitake mushrooms and portabella mushrooms grown with exposure to ultraviolet light
Beverages and foods that are fortified with Vitamin D, such as milk, plant-based milk, orange juice and cereals
As with all food choices, it’s important to read the labels.
How much Vitamin D for you need?
According to the Institute of Medicine, here are the recommended levels by age:
Infants age 0 to 6 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,000 IU/day
Infants age 6 to 12 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,500 IU/day
Age 1-3 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 2,500 IU/day
Age 4-8 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 3,000 IU/day
Age 9-70: adequate intake, 600 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
Age 71+ years: adequate intake, 800 IU/day; maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
Keep in mind that too much of anything can be harmful; excess Vitamin D can result in kidney stones and calcium build-up in the heart, lungs, blood vessels and other soft tissues.
If you’re concerned about your Vitamin D, speak to your family doctor.