Getting enough vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in bones and for improving muscle strength. People who do not get enough vitamin D have a higher risk for developing bone thinning (osteoporosis). One study shows that vitamin D may reduce an older person's risk of falling by 22%.1

Most doctors suggest daily vitamin D supplements for children and teens, starting by age 2 months. The amount of vitamin D you need changes as you get older. Talk with your doctor about how much and what sources of vitamin D are right for your child. The recommended daily intake is 400 to 800 IU for adults ages 19 to 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU a day for adults age 50 and older.2 You usually can get the amount of vitamin D you need each day by:

  • Drinking at least 4 glasses of milk a day or consuming other dairy products that have a similar amount of vitamin D added.
  • Being out in sunlight for at least 15 minutes each day without sunscreen. Your body makes vitamin D when it's exposed to sunlight.
  • Taking vitamin D supplements. Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.

People who stay indoors, people who live where winter is long, people who don't get enough vitamin D from their diets, and children, teens, and older adults often need to take vitamin D supplements.

Citations

  1. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. (2004). Effect of vitamin D on falls: A meta-analysis. JAMA, 291(16): 1999–2006.
  2. National Osteoporosis Foundation (2008). Prevention. Available online: www.nof.org/prevention/index.htm.

Last Updated: November 21, 2008

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