Written By: Jessica Spana
It can be hard to imagine that a large portion of the population could be deficient in an important vitamin, but almost half of American adults are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, assisting in the absorption of calcium from the diet, and contributing to bone health. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 IU, however; most Americans are not meeting the recommended daily intake. A 2011 nutrition study found that 42 percent of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. With many people reducing their exposure to the sun by using sunscreen when they go outside, they may be inadvertently causing a Vitamin D deficiency. This is due to the important role that the sun rays play in helping synthesize the precursors for vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin. So less sun exposure can cause a decrease in the amount of Vitamin D that our bodies naturally produce. However there are other ways to get Vitamin D from your diet without exposing yourself to large amounts of UV radiation.
Some dietary sources of Vitamin D include fatty fishes, such as salmon and tuna, cheese, egg yolks, and fortified foods. Some foods that are fortified with vitamin D include cereals, dairy products, non-dairy drinks (soy milk), and orange juice. It may also be beneficial for some older adults to take a vitamin D supplement that contains cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and calcium. This can enhance the absorption of vitamin d and calcium in the body, since it becomes harder for the body to absorb all of the nutrients it needs from diet as we age.
For more information about Vitamin D and other common nutrient deficiencies, check out the CDC infographic posted below!
This article was written in observance of National Nutrition Awareness Month.
Edited By: Kelli Selwyn
Jessica is a UF Alumna, graduating from the Food Science and Human Nutrition program in 2016. During her time at UF, she worked as a research assistant for the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Renal Transplantation in the College of Medicine. She was also peer mentor for the USDA GETFRUVED study which was aimed at preventing the freshman 15. Jessica now works in a research lab at Shands hospital.