It’s long been known that calcium is vital for strong bones. However, vitamin D is just as crucial in ensuring you have a strong frame that will take you into your older years.
Here are the answers to your top five questions about vitamin D, ensuring you too can be on the path to great bone health!
What is vitamin D?
There’s a whole alphabet of vitamins, and knowing which ones to consume and why can be confusing. Vitamin D, however, has a very specific role to play in building and maintaining strong bones, from childhood right through to older adulthood. Health Canada offers the following definition: “Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps the body use calcium and phosphorous to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.”
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How does vitamin D help bone health?
Health Canada explains that vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium efficiently. So if you want to ensure you’re getting your daily calcium fix, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D as well to absorb the nutrient.
Isn’t vitamin D absorbed from the sun?
A unique property of vitamin D is that spending some time in the sun can equal a good dose of it. Osteoporosis Canada explains that “the sun’s rays interact with our skin to produce vitamin D that can be used for bone and muscle health.”
However, the organization cautions Canadians that “because we live in a northern climate, we don’t get as much sun as we need; and when we apply sunscreen in the summer, that disables the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sun exposure. Additionally, as we age, the skin’s ability to make vitamin D decreases, and for all of these reasons, many Canadians are low on vitamin D.”
Because of this, Osteoporosis Canada recommends “routine vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults year-round.”
How else can I get vitamin D year-round?
You can increase your daily vitamin D intake in a number of ways. But first, here’s a snapshot of the recommended daily doses from Health Canada:
- Infants 0–12 months: 400 IU or 10 micrograms
- Children aged 1 year to adults aged up to 70 years: 600 IU or 15 micrograms
- Adults aged over 70 years: 800 IU or 20 micrograms
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU or 15 micrograms
The best-known food sources of vitamin D are those that have been fortified with the nutrient. It is mandatory in Canada for cows’ milk and margarine to be fortified with vitamin D (other dairy products might contain smaller amounts of the vitamin). Other foods known to contain vitamin D include some calcium-fortified orange juices, fatty fish and egg yolks.
Alternatively, one of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting a consistent daily dose of vitamin D is through a supplement.
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Can you ever get too much vitamin D?
Health Canada cautions that “too much vitamin D can cause too much calcium to be deposited in the body, which can lead to calcification of the kidney and other soft tissues, including the heart, lungs and blood vessels.”
To be sure of the correct and safe amount of vitamin D for you, consult your general practitioner.