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What is Vitamin D?

Honey Baked Salmon

It’s that time of year again.  When no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun on these short winter days we spend mostly inside.  Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that naturally present in very few foods and is produced by the body after exposure to the sun.  Vitamin D remains the "It" vitamin of the year.  Long known to be important for bone health, recent findings suggest that it is also important for heart health, diabetes, cancer, and immunity.

Recent news headlines include:

  • Vitamin D: Better than any vaccine in preventing Flu
  • Vitamin D Reducing the Risk of Disease
  • o   Low Vitamin D levels linked to diabetes, heart disease
  • o   Adverse effects of Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is not readily found in foods.  Instead, our bodies make it with enough exposure to the sun.  Since we cover ourselves up with high SPF sun screen to prevent skin cancer, we have to find a way to get vitamin D in other ways.

There are very few food sources with any significant amount of Vitamin D.  Milk is fortified and some fishes like salmon and herring can help you get there.  In addition, most doctors are recommending supplements, but they argue about how much.  The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 600 IU for everyone ages 1 to 70 and 800 IU a day for those 71 and older.  Most doctors are recommended 1,000 IU and some feel that is not even enough.  The Institute of Medicine says that up to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day is safe.

**My advice:  Go with the crowd, 1000 IU’s per day, but if you take a multivitamin (and you should), see how much your multi has and then add on to that, don't add 1000 on top of what is in your multi.

For more on Vitamin D and why my grandfather’s weekly kiddish club was a good source for schnapps and Vitamin D, read Vitamin D - Demystified.

Recipes that will help you increase your Vitamin D levels include:

Spinach and Sardine Pasta

Honey Baked Salmon

Olive Oil Poached Herring