Last week, I posted an article on the 13 essential vitamins. In that post, I mentioned that I would periodically be profiling different vitamins. Today, I wanted to discuss Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in fat tissue. It is found in dairy products such as cheese, butter and cream, as well as fortified milk. In many countries, including the U.S., our milk is fortified with Vitamin D, in part because Vitamin D helps the body to absorb the mineral calcium. This is especially important to ensure that the bones of growing children develop properly. Other sources of Vitamin D include fish, margarine, fortified cereals and oysters. Besides food sources, Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to adequate sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in osteoporosis (a bone disease) in adults, particularly in post-menopausal women who are at increased risk of bone loss. If you do not consume dairy products, including milk on a daily basis, you may also be at risk of a Vitamin D deficiency. Strict vegetarians such as vegans are also at risk, as are lactose intolerant people. Vitamin D deficiency in babies that are exclusively breastfed is possible because breast milk does not supply adequate amounts of Vitamin D. This is why physicians recommend daily Vitamin D drops for breastfed babies particularly during winter months when not enough sunlight is available to produce Vitamin D naturally.
If you are at risk of a Vitamin D deficiency as described above, you should consider taking one of the many supplements available on the market today. The Vitamin D should help your body to absorb sufficient calcium, which is necessary to maintain healthy bones and teeth. As mentioned previously, it is important for post-menopausal women to consume adequate amounts of Vitamin D because of the increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Be sure to read labels carefully and follow the directions of your physician if you have been given a Vitamin D prescription. Alternatively, consider taking a women's multi-vitamin that has the recommended amounts of Vitamin D and Calcium for your particular age group.