We’ve come a long way from the early days of the 20th century when nutritional deficiencies caused a lot of health problems. Rickets, in particular, caused weak and deformed bone structure in children due to a lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient to help the body absorb calcium that is necessary to build strong bones and teeth. However, with the introduction of fortified foods and particularly vitamin D fortified milk, rickets has all but been eradicated in children.
Since sunlight is another way to provide vitamin D to our bodies, there has been a rise in vitamin D deficiencies as more media has focused on the detrimental hazards of sun exposure. Studies have shown that in addition to weakening your bones, vitamin D deficiency may be associated with conditions like cancers, asthma, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases that can affect the function of your thyroid. In children, vitamin D deficiencies brought about rickets while bone weakening in adults is called osteomalacia. The benefits of vitamin D to our bodies is the way it helps overall bone health and decreases the mortality rate for old women.
Vitamin D is a necessary part of our whole nutritional health. Fatty fish, fish-liver oils and eggs are the few foods that naturally contain this essential nutrient. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet, as it is difficult to get the necessary amount of vitamin D from just eating the food that provides it naturally. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals often contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine and other food products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database Web site lists the nutrient content of many foods. It also provides a comprehensive list of foods containing vitamin D.
Follow carefully any diet program your healthcare professional recommends. If you think you are deficient in some vitamins and minerals and would like to pursue a richer, Vitamin-fortified diet or take additional vitamin supplements, be sure to work closely with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations for appropriate foods and vitamin dosages, as getting too much vitamin D can conversely lead to Vitamin D toxicity. You may be at greater risk if you have health problems such as liver or kidney conditions or if you take some diuretics.
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for children and most adults. The recommendation for adults over age 70 is 800 IU daily. Above 4,000 IU a day the risk of adverse effects increases. Finally, keep in mind that doctors may recommend higher does of vitamin D for a short time to treat an underlying medical problem such as vitamin D deficiency. However, such doses should always be under the care of a doctor.