More North Americans are deficient in vitamin D than any other vitamin except B12. Vitamin D deficiency can cause osteoporosis and other health problems. Most people do not meet their requirements for vitamin D with food, they get it from sunlight.

Exposing a few of inches of skin to sunlight for ten minutes a day provides all the vitamin D you need. Good food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, liver, vitamin D-fortified milk and butter, but concern about heart attacks has caused many North Americans to reduce their of these foods. At the same time, concern about skin cancer has caused many people to reduce their exposure to sunlight. Many senior citizens develop vitamin D deficiency because they do not go outdoors at all.

Vitamin D is necessary to keep bones strong. One third of the people who develop hip fractures lack vitamin D. To find out if you are deficient in vitamin D, ask your doctor to draw a blood test for 24 hydroxy vitamin D. If you have low levels, you need more vitamin D. You can meet your daily needs for vitamin D without adding a lot of fat to your diet by drinking vitamin D-fortified skim milk, eating fish, taking a supplement that contains 400 international units of vitamin D, or getting some sunlight unimpeded by glass.

Checked 5/3/07

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