My Sister the Nutritionist: Vitamin D

July 29, 2015

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin important for good overall health. It keeps your heart, lungs, brain, and other muscles working properly, your bones strong, and has a role in fighting off infections. Adequate vitamin D levels can protect you from depression, heart disease, and cancer or aging of the skin!

Not only does vitamin D have benefits for your skin, but your skin cells also play an important role in the internal production of vitamin D. Unlike any other vitamin, your body can make its own vitamin D. When the skin is exposed to ultra violet light from the sun it triggers your body to convert cholesterol precursors into a form of vitamin D. After a few more chemical reactions the active form of vitamin D is produced. This active form’s role is critical for managing calcium in your blood, bones and gut and helps cells all over your body communicate properly.

So exposure to the sun is one way to get vitamin D, but often this isn’t enough. Unfortunately, food sources that naturally contain vitamin D are extremely limited. Few plant-based foods contain a form of vitamin D called ergocalciferol, which is also found in fortified products and supplements as well. Cholecalciferol is the form found in animal based foods and in some fortified foods.

The recommendation for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) per day, however many experts suggest this recommendation is too low.  Therefore, it is important to make sure you are reaching your daily level of at least 600 IU and correcting deficiency when present.

Need suggestions?

-Go for fortified orange juice over original when at the grocery store.
-When eating mushrooms opt for sun-dried over fresh to increase amount of vitamin D by nearly 500 IUs.
-Try adding 8 oz of fortified almond, soy, or rice milk to your fortified cereal to start your day with a vitamin D packed breakfast.
-Expose your skin to direct sunlight for about 10-15 minutes daily, prior to applying sun protection.

Written by Amber Pelletier. Amber is a nutritionist and the sister of Tara (one of our co-founders). She will be guest blogging for MMT sharing some of her knowledge on essential vitamins and minerals and how we can access them in our skin care and diet.

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