Vitamin D is an essential nutrient with numerous roles, including bone strength and heart health. This vitamin may be naturally found in food, added to food, or made by our bodies.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which, unlike water-soluble vitamins, can store for a longer time in the liver and fatty tissue. It is important to get enough vitamin D, but because we can store these vitamins, taking mega-doses (i.e., with high supplementation) can lead to toxic levels.
Why is vitamin D important?
One significant role of vitamin D is to help our bodies absorb calcium. Though most often associated with bone health, vitamin D also plays a role in immune function, neuromuscular function, heart health, and cell growth and development. Recent evidence suggests that it may even decrease symptoms of depression. Poor vitamin D status is common in the U.S., particularly in regions with decreased sun exposure seasonally.
Where is it found?
Dairy is typically the first food group that comes to mind when thinking about sources of vitamin D. It is also found in fatty fish, like tuna and salmon. Other sources include: egg yolks, beef liver, cheese, and mushrooms. Foods often fortified with vitamin D include: dairy products, juices, bread, and cereals.
If you find yourself having difficulty incorporating foods high in vitamin D, try to get outside. The human body can convert UV rays from the sun into vitamin D. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of sun exposure, three days per week, to meet your needs.