Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin D (Calciferol)
The primary method by which humans get vitamin D is through getting sufficient and regular exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D production is initiated when skin cells are exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) rays. In fact, it is almost impossible to intake adequate quantities of vitamin D through diet alone. Getting enough exposure to sunlight is the only way to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin D, and making sure you are getting all of the health benefits of vitamin D.
There are two primary factors that come into play when it comes to creating enough vitamin D through sun exposure. First, those who live farther away from the equator have to get more sun exposure in order to produce enough vitamin D. Second, individuals who have darker skin complexions need to get more exposure to sunlight than people with light complexions in order to create the same amount of vitamin D.
However, some foods contain vitamin D. These foods can be used to help supplement the vitamin D synthesized by your skin. Include the following foods that are dietary sources of vitamin D to increase your intake:
- Milk and other types of dairy products are often enriched with Vitamin D. This includes yogurt and cheese.
- Eggs are a minor source of vitamin D.
- You can get some vitamin D from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
- Fish oils, such as cod liver oil and other types of fish liver oils are also food sources of vitamin D.
Fortified Grain Products
- Many breads and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are made with grains that are enriched or fortified with vitamin D.
Daily Requirement of Vitamin D (Calciferol)
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) outlines what amount of nutrients is needed each day for different people, based on age and sex. For vitamin D (calciferol), the RDA is:
- 10 micrograms per day for infants 0-12 months old.
- 15 micrograms per day for males and females from 1-70 years old.
- 20 micrograms per day for males and females over the age of 70.
The RDA does not change for women who are pregnant or nursing. It remains at 15 micrograms per day.
Humans have evolved to get the majority of their vitamin D through exposure to the sun. Because people tend to spend less time outside than they used to, the occurrence of vitamin D deficiency has risen.
Those who are at the highest risk of a deficiency are older people, those who have darker skin complexions, those who live in regions where there is less sunlight is limited, and people don’t spend much time outside. Also, individuals who have difficulties absorbing dietary fat (which can occur with people who have Crohn’s disease or liver disease) are at an increased risk of deficiency. Additionally, people who are obese or overweight may have problems building up stores of vitamin D in the body, which can lead to a deficiency.
The RDA values are established by the National Academy of Sciences.