Lately, there has been a lot of focus on the importance of Vitamin D, which is important for bone health. It may also have a role in preventing other diseases including cancer and heart disease.
Many patients ask about foods that are good sources of Vitamin D. Some foods are fortified with extra Vitamin D. For example, Vitamin D fortified milk and orange juice contain 100 IU per 8 ounce serving. A serving of fortified yogurt also contains about 100 IU. Other “natural” sources of Vitamin D include oily fishes (salmon, mackerel, herring) and also sun dried mushrooms. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because the skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to the sun. The problem is that sun exposure also damages the skin. That’s why wearing sunscreen is so important- to protect form skin cancer, wrinkles, and sun damage. The problem is that even sunscreen with SPF as low as 8 (and I recommend at least SPF 15 to 30) cuts skin’s ability to produce vitamin D by 95%. It is hard to get the recommended Vitamin D through diet alone. That’s why so many people need to take Vitamin D supplement.
For maintenance of bone health, the Institute of Medicine recommends intake of 600 IU daily for everyone age 1 through age 70, and an intake of 800 IU for adults age 71 and older. There is currently a large body of research looking at the role of Vitamin D in preventing other diseases including heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes.