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Getting Enough Vitamin D

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I eat a lot of eggs, like this delicious omelet I recently enjoyed while traveling to Bermuda. They provide vitamin D, but even a couple of eggs don’t provide the amount of vitamin D that I need daily. You see, vitamin D is one of those foods that’s not supereasy to get from food, unless you eat a lot of fatty fish or take fish liver oil. Most adults need 600 IU a day, and adults over age 70 need a little more, 800 IU (see below for food source ideas). So that means a lot of us, including me, end up taking supplements.

Getting enough vitamin D is important for many reasons, including bone health. But if you get too much through supplement use, that could pose some risk. A recent research letter published in the journal JAMA assessed the connection between higher-than-recommended intake of supplemental vitamin D intake and health outcomes. The study authors looked at more than 39,000 survey participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. What they found: From 1999 to 2014, 18 percent of the people interviewed ingested more than 1,000 IU daily, and 3 percent went over the tolerable upper limit of 4,000 IU daily.

Some research connects a high vitamin D intake with potential complications such as heightened risk of fractures and falls, and a higher risk of kidney stones when the higher vitamin D intake is paired with calcium. Given this, if you decide to supplement with vitamin D, you should discuss the amount with your healthcare provider—especially since having certain health conditions may mean that you need more or less than the recommendation.

The bottom line? Try getting your vitamin D intake from food — for example, 1½ teaspoons of cod liver oil or a cup of milk and some grilled salmon. If you’re taking a supplement, opt for one with less than 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day — and potentially cut back on a day’s supplement use if you’re getting enough vitamin D from food that day. As well, always choose supplements in vitamin D3 form, as this has the biggest impact on blood levels, versus vitamin D2. No matter what you decide, discuss all of your supplement use with your doctor.

Ready to eat your vitamin D? Here are some food sources to add to your plate:

  • Cod liver oil, 1 teaspoon: 448 IUs, 2 SmartPoints® value
  • Egg, large: 41 IU vitamin D, 2 SmartPoints value
  • Milk, fat-free, fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup: 115 to 124 IU vitamin D, 3 SmartPoints value
  • Sardines, canned in oil and drained, 2 pieces: 46 IU vitamin D, 1 SmartPoints value
  • Sockeye salmon, cooked, 3 ounces: 447 IU vitamin D, 2 SmartPoints value
  • Tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces: 154 IU, 1 SmartPoints value

About how much vitamin D do you take in daily? Tell me on Connect @amy_gorin!

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