Did you know that vitamin D is a much-needed nutrient that helps maintain strong bones, helps muscles move, and helps nerves carry messages between the brain and various body parts? Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from food and supplements. Vitamin D and calcium, together, also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis—a condition in which bones become brittle and thin. In children, this condition is known as rickets.
If someone does not get enough vitamin D—due to not consuming enough or absorbing enough from their food, not getting enough exposure to sunlight (the body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun), or their kidneys not being able to convert vitamin D to its active form in the body—they will become deficient. As mentioned before, not getting enough vitamin D and calcium can lead to osteoporosis.
While there are few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, there are foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, including breakfast cereals, milk, orange juice, and yogurt. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are the best natural sources of vitamin D. And small amounts of vitamin D can be found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
While our bodies need vitamin D for healthy bones, too much vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood. And too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. If you would like to learn more about your vitamin D status check with your doctor for more information and recommendations.