Vitamin D helps us fight infections, which is especially important during the winter months, when colds and the flu are being passed around. Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin”, because our body produces it when our skin is exposed to sunlight. This can create a problem in cold weather. How do we make sure that we’re getting enough Vitamin D when there’s ice and snow outside?
Vitamin D in Our Diet
There aren’t a lot of foods that contain Vitamin D naturally. We can get from eating fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. There’s quite a bit of it in cod liver oil and a small amount in mushrooms. Most Americans, however, get the majority of their Vitamin D from artificially fortified foods such as milk, cereals and orange juice.
What Else Does it Do?
The body cannot function normally without Vitamin D. It:
- Helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is one of the basic building blocks of bone
- Helps the nerves send messages to the brain
- Is necessary for the development of muscle cells
- Is necessary for heart health
How Much Do We Need?
Some people take supplements of Vitamin D, especially during the winter. It’s important to take only what is needed, however, since too much Vitamin D can be toxic. Most adults need 600 IU or 15 micrograms of Vitamin D each day. The daily maximum recommended limit is 4000 IU or 100 mcg. Vitamin D – Consumer (nih.gov)
Vitamin D Toxicity
The symptoms of Vitamin D toxicity include:
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of Appetite
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive urination
- Kidney stones
- Kidney failure
- Irregular heartbeat
Vitamin D supplements can interact with some medications and some medications can affect you’re the level of Vitamin D in your blood.
Too much Vitamin D can lower the effectiveness of some statins, which are drugs that help lower cholesterol.
Steroids such as prednisone can lower the level of Vitamin D in your blood.
If you take Vitamin D supplements, thiazide diuretics such as Hygroton, Lozol and Microzide can cause the level of calcium in your blood to go too high.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re considering taking Vitamin D supplements, talk to your healthcare provider first. You may be able to get a test to measure the level of Vitamin D in your blood. This can help your provider decide whether or not you need a supplement.