What can boost your immune system, help keep your bones healthy and aid in muscle function? Vitamin D! When it comes to supplements, my response is usually, food first... supplements second. However when it comes to winter time, if you are in a part of the country where you are getting limited exposure to natural sunlight, taking a vitamin D supplement is worth considering.
Why? Vitamin D is formed when sunlight hits the skin, so during times of minimal sun exposure, supplementation is a must. There are a limited number of foods that have vitamin D, for example: cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna and some foods are fortified with vitamin D like milk.
In the body: There are many important roles in the body for vitamin D, including: aiding in calcium absorption, playing a role in immune health, inflammation and skeletal muscle function.
How much? The needs of vitamin D vary by age (See the list below) and there as with all supplements, if some is good, more is not better. Before starting to take a vitamin D supplement first total how much vitamin D you are getting from foods and beverages (like milk and fortified orange juice) and any multivitamin that you are taking. Then figure out how much additional vitamin D to add in. Plus before starting any supplement, check with your health care provider first!
Too much? There is an upper intake limit set for vitamin D as well, which is the level at which there is an increased risk for adverse health impact. If you are taking more than the upper limit, it should be under the care of your health care provider to carefully monitor blood levels of vitamin D.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance & Tolerable Upper Intake Levels:
0 - 6 months: Recommended 400 IU, Upper Limit: 1000 IU
7 - 12 months: Recommended 400 IU, Upper Limit: 1500 IU
1 - 3 years: Recommended: 600 IU, Upper Limit: 2500 IU
4 - 8 years: Recommended: 600 IU, Upper Limit: 3000 IU
9 - 70 years: Recommended: 600 IU, Upper Limit: 4000 IU
>70 years: Recommended: 800 IU, Upper Limit: 4000 IU
Pregnancy & Lactation: Recommended: 600 IU, Upper Limit 4000 IU
Choosing a supplement: Opt for a kids specific vitamin D for children and an adult specific for adults to ensure proper supplementation levels, without taking too much. Below are images of a Nature's Made chewable vitamin D that taste great plus get the daily dose of vitamin D in. Although they do taste great so make sure you stick to the above recommendations and do not over do it!