Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in bones and to improve muscle strength. Not getting enough vitamin D in childhood can slow growth or cause misshapen bones (rickets), and not getting enough vitamin D throughout life increases the risk for bone thinning (osteoporosis) in later years.

Many people can get the amount of vitamin D needed each day by eating a variety of dairy products. Vitamin D is in foods such as egg yolks, liver, saltwater fish, and vitamin D-fortified dairy products. Vitamin D also is available in supplements, often in combination with calcium. People who live in sunny climates can get enough vitamin D through 10 to 15 minutes a day of sun exposure a few days a week.

Most doctors suggest:

  • Children and teens need at least 200 to 400 IU every day.
  • People ages 19 to 50 need 400 to 800 IU every day.
  • People ages 50 and older need 800 to 1000 IU every day.

Last Updated: November 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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